FAQs - Switching supplier, tariffs and bills
- Can I switch tariff or energy supplier if I have a smart meter?
Yes. People with a smart meter can switch energy supplier and tariff in exactly the same way that anyone with a traditional meter can. Find out more about switching supplier with a smart meter here.
- Do smart meters work with prepay?
Yes. Smart meters will make prepay as easy as pay-as-you-go on your mobile or tablet. If you choose smart prepay, you should be able to conveniently see how much credit you have left on your in-home display, using an app, over the phone, or via text. Top-up in person at your local store/outlet, without any need to put a key or card back into a meter. Payments will automatically be added to your account and you'll always be able to top-up with cash. Pay the same rates as everyone else - smart meters will remove the need for prepay to be more expensive than other tariffs. Switch between payment modes (credit and prepay) without physically changing your meter.
- Can I get a smart meter if I am on an Economy 7 or an Economy 10 tariff?
If you have an Economy 7 or 10 electricity supply, you can get a smart meter as part of the national rollout. But it does depend on which energy supplier is ready to install one for you. Smart meters of this type will be available at a larger scale later in the rollout.
- How accurate are smart meters?
Smart meters are as accurate as traditional meters. By law, all smart meters have to be approved by and certified by the Office of Product Safety & Standards to prove their accuracy. If you believe that there's a fault with your smart meter you can report it to your energy supplier in the same way you do now.
- Will the in-home display cost me anything to run?
Your smart meter's in-home display will cost less than £1 a year in electricity.
- Does a smart meter mean my energy can be cut off more easily?
No. You're protected by strict regulations against your energy supplier switching off or disconnecting your gas or electricity supply. This protection remains as strong with smart meters as it is with traditional meters.
- Will I still be sent energy bills?
Yes. Your in-home display is for information only. You will still receive regular energy bills in the same way you do now, whether that's in the post or online, but now they'll be accurate, without you having to submit a manual meter reading. Depending on your energy supplier, you may also receive some energy efficiency advice.
- Can my smart meter help me save money?
Yes. Smart meters can help us to identify situations where we're using a lot of energy and might want to make changes to this. If you use the information shown on your smart meter in-home display to reduce your energy use, you could reduce your energy costs. Smart meters also mean accurate bills as they bring an end to estimates, so you can be confident that you're only paying for what you've actually used.
- I have a smart meter so why is my supplier asking for a reading?
As with all wireless technology, smart meters may occasionally experience connectivity issues. Just like mobile phone or Wi-Fi networks, these problems can be caused by a number of issues that can usually be resolved quickly. If your smart meter cannot communicate with your energy supplier via the designated wireless network, they may ask you for a temporary manual meter reading so that your bills will remain accurate until the problem is resolved.
- I have a smart meter so why have I received an estimated bill?
The first bill you receive after having your smart meter installed may still be estimated. If you are still receiving estimated bills after this, you should contact your energy supplier.
- Can I be charged different prices at different times of day?
No, an energy supplier cannot charge you based upon when you use your energy unless you specifically choose such a tariff (known as time-of-use tariffs). Time-of-use tariffs could mean lower bills if you use energy outside peak times. They will also help energy suppliers to better manage periods of peak demand. Time-of-use tariffs are not compulsory and if they suit your lifestyle, could save you money. There are already some time-of-use tariff such as Economy 7 and Economy 10, or even free energy at certain times of day, but smart meters mean that time-of-use tariffs can be more flexible.
- Could a time-of-use tariff really save me money?
If you have a smart meter, you can choose a smart time-of-use tariff, which offers a different price for energy at different times of the day.
These tariffs have been designed to help you save money on your bills, as you will be financially rewarded for using energy when demand is low or excess energy is available. For example, if you use your washing machine when there is a lot of renewable energy being produced (on windy or sunny days), your energy could be cheaper. Or, charge your phone at night when less energy is being used by others.
Time-of-use tariffs already exist and are popular with electric vehicle owners who can save money by charging their cars at off-peak times.
When you accept a smart meter, you’ll have a choice to send your meter readings to your supplier about your usage every 30 minutes. These half-hourly readings will help energy suppliers understand how much energy is being used around the country, and when. With this information, energy suppliers will be able to buy more accurate amounts of energy to supply their customers.
This will help us to reach net-zero by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels – great!
But that isn’t the only benefit, with suppliers only buying what they need to supply your home, consumers stand to save. And the more that consumers move some of their energy use to off-peak periods, the greater these savings will be. With the electricity system running more efficiently, Ofgem estimates that consumers could save between £1.6 billion and £4.5 billion by 2045.
Sources of Help
Smart Energy GB is the consumer engagement campaign for the smart meter rollout. We want to help everyone understand smart meters and the benefits they bring to households and the environment.
We're not an energy supplier and we don't make or fit smart meters, and we’re not the technical authority of the smart meter rollout.
We also don’t have any regulatory authority so we’re unable to intervene in any individual customer's dialogue with their energy supplier about the service they have received.
Who should I contact if I need help?
If you have an issue with booking your smart meter installation, your installation experience or an issue with your smart meter please contact your energy supplier.
Don't know your energy supplier? For your gas supplier, visit Find My Supplier or call 0870 608 1524. For electricity, visit uSwitch for the number to call to find your energy supplier in your region.
(Charges may apply.)
If you believe that your energy supplier has not met its obligations, Citizens Advice may be able to assist you. Government has given a formal role to Citizens Advice to monitor and advise it on issues relating to customer experiences and energy supplier service. They can be contacted via their website, here or via the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
If you’d like to find out more about the roles and responsibilities of the organisations involved with the smart meter rollout, including the Data Communications Company (DCC) which is responsible for establishing and managing the new smart meter network, see our website, here