Prepayment Meter Update
We know there's a lot of news coverage about prepayment meters at the moment. Smart meters in prepayment mode offer many advantages for people who want to pay for their energy in advance. There are strict rules set by Ofgem on switching customers to prepayment. You can read a statement from Smart Energy GB here.Smart Energy GB statement on prepayment meters
SMART METER BENEFITS FOR PREPAY CUSTOMERS
Smart meters are here for prepay customers, and according to our research, nearly 9 in 10 prepay customers would recommend them thanks to the many benefits they provide. From making topping up easier, to helping you take control of your energy usage.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is a prepayment smart meter (pay as you go smart meter)?
- How do prepay smart meters work?
- Do I need a new smart meter to switch between credit and prepay?
- Why should you get a pay as you go smart meter?
- What are the benefits of prepayment smart meters?
- So, will prepay smart meters help me save money?
- How to read a prepayment electric smart meter?
WHAT IS A PREPAYMENT SMART METER (PAY AS YOU GO SMART METER)?
Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meter. They can work in prepay or credit mode depending on which tariff you’re on.
Smart meters are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost. They’re replacing the traditional meters including prepay key or card meters, most of us currently have ticking away under the stairs, or outside our homes.
Watch the video below for more information on prepay smart meters:
Smart meters are available for prepay customers.
They come with a handy in-home display that clearly shows you how much credit you’ve got left. Then simply top up, however, and wherever you like. You can do this online, by phone, text, or via an app. This may vary depending on your supplier. If you prefer, you can still top up in person at your local shop and credit will be added to your account automatically.
They could also help with household budgeting because you’ll be able to see in near-real time just how much energy you're using and how much it’s costing you. Of course, smart meters are set up to work for both prepay and credit customers. if you'd prefer to change between credit and prepay, your supplier can make this change without you needing a whole new meter.
How very smart indeed.
Whether you’re on prepay or credit, smart meters measure how much gas and electricity you’re using as well as what it’s costing. If you choose to accept one, this information will be displayed on a handy in-home display (IHD).
HOW DO PREPAY SMART METERS WORK?
With a prepay smart meter, you’ll no longer need to access your meters to top up – great if they’re difficult to reach!
This is because you'll be able to see how much credit you have left via your portable in-home display. So, your remaining credit will always be easily readable. You’ll also be able to top up remotely online - no more popping to the shops in your dressing gown when you run out of credit!
This is made possible by the secure smart data network (managed by the DCC) smart meters use. This network communicates your meter readings from your smart meter in the back of your cupboard to your energy supplier. And separately sends your energy usage data to your in-home display. So, you don’t have to worry about accessing your meters to take a reading.
DO I NEED A NEW SMART METER TO SWITCH BETWEEN CREDIT AND PREPAY?
No! Smart meters, can be used in both credit and prepay mode. So, customers moving to prepay no longer need a special meter installed.
Traditionally, if a consumer fell into debt with a traditional analogue meter, their energy supplier could charge to install a new analogue prepayment meter in their home. This would add to the debt of the consumer.
However, with smart meters, customers can be switched from credit to prepayment mode without the cost of a new meter being added to their existing debt.
WHY SHOULD YOU GET A PAY AS YOU GO METER?
With a prepay smart meter (sometimes called pay-as-you-go smart meter), budgeting is easier thanks to the in-home display. With this, you’ll be able to see in near-real time just how much you’re spending on your energy, in pounds and pence at a glance.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PREPAYMENT SMART METERS?
Making topping up easier
With a prepay smart meter, you can top up your gas and electricity online. That’s one less reason to leave the house:
With a smart prepay meter, you can top up your gas & electricity online.
That's one less reason to leave the house...
Up next... Sally makes a trifle without jelly, or custard... or cream.
Join the energy revolution. Get a smart meter.
With traditional prepayment meters, you need to manually top up a card or key at PayPoints. But with a pay as you go smart meter the process is simpler: you can top-up in a number of ways, which could include online, via telephone or text message, or even with a smartphone app.
My name is Doriver. I live in Derby with my family. I’ve been here for about five years.
If everybody had a smart meter, it would be equivalent of taking two thousand cars off the roads.
When we first moved into this house, we had an analogue prepay meter, and it was a nightmare. I've never experienced anything like it before.
Since we had the smart meter, I just feel so much more in control of my energy use because I can see exactly what I'm spending on a day-to-day basis.
I decide what we're going to use, and I know what I'm paying upfront every month. Topping up now is so much easier than previously.
Whereas I had to get dressed and physically going down to the shop, now when I get paid, I just lie in bed on my phone, top what I know I'm going to spend that month, because we've had the meter about three years so historically, I know roughly what I'm going to be spending. It takes me literally sixty seconds to top the meter up.
I am a lot more careful now about leaving things on standby, because you can see physically on my meter what kind of impact this can have.
It's nicer for me because it's kind of on my pocket, but also the less energy we use, then obviously it's much better environment so win-win.
I think it'd be lovely if Derby became more environmentally friendly and set the example.
We are the city with smart meters, we are a city that's saving energy. And how much better would that be for everybody's benefit.
Helping you reduce your energy usage
Smart meters can help you change your energy behaviours, which could help you reduce the amount of energy you use. The in-home display in prepay mode tells you your credit in pounds and pence, and you can see your energy consumption at a glance.
You can use this information to work out which appliances, such as the television or kettle are using the most energy and, if you can, adjust accordingly.
90% of customers with a smart meter in prepay mode have taken at least one step to reduce their energy use. This could include turning off the lights in empty rooms, or changing the way they use household appliances. *
Helping you to save and take control of your energy use
Smart meters provide cumulative energy usage data, so that you can identify times and situations when you’re using more or less. The more information you have on your own usage, the more in control of it you can be.
Because of this, almost 80% of smart prepay customers agreed their smart meter helps them feel more in control of their energy use. *
See how Elspeth has used her smart meter to make budgeting that little bit easier:
My name is Elspeth Kerr. I live in a three bedroom house with my husband, my two daughters, who are grown up, and my dog, my cat, my rabbit.
We had a prepay meter and really wanted to get a smart meter so it was about a year and a half ago that we got one. We got a smart meter installed because we wanted to have more control over our spending.
The best thing about having a smart meter installed is that we've got a display unit in a prominent place where we can see in pounds and pence quite easily how much is left on it and what the usage is. Also, it's in the living room where when it starts to beep, to let us know that it's low and we need to top it up. It's not hidden in a cupboard somewhere and we know to do it.
Before we had a prepayment meter, before we had a smart meter, we had to physically go and have a look in the cupboard or down really low, where it was really awkward to see how much was left on it. So it was far handier having it out in the open where we know when to top it up.
A good thing about having the smart meter is I can see how much energy is being used at any given time. And we've realised that the shower actually uses a lot of energy. So I have said to my daughter, that showers need to be shorter to try and conserve the energy. Whenever we see it going into the amber or the red we look about and see what's on to see if things can get switched off so that we know what is running at any given time.
My favourite features of the in-home display are that I can see how much is being used at any a given time, and see how much has been used that day in pounds and pence. Also, I don’t have to leave the house to top it up. I just go online on my phone and top it up through that, really easily. So having a smart meter has actually, has made it easier for us to keep the cost down and be consistent with how much or how little we're using.
Yeah I would definitely recommend having a smart meter for anybody especially on prepayment because it's so easy to top up online without having to go to the shop or bend down to a gas meter You know, when it's that easy, why wouldn't you?
Helping you access your prepayment electricity and gas meters
Research by Citizens Advice has found 16% of people with prepayment meters run out of credit each year. The top two reasons for this are customers forgetting to top-up (47%), and customers not realising that credit was low (32%).
As customers have the ability to monitor energy usage and check credit using their in-home display, smart prepay should help prevent this. And if a household does run out of credit, the online top-up function means they can get energy back on instantly.
Elspeth’s smart meter allows her to top up without struggling to access her prepayment gas and electricity meters –
“When we had our old meters, I was always forgetting to take the key or card to the shop to get them topped up, and we often ran out of credit at inconvenient times – once I was making a pair of curtains on my sewing machine and the electricity ran out. I really needed to get them finished that night and having to go to the shop to top up wasted precious time. Now, our smart meter warns us when we are close to running out of credit, and I can see at a glance how much we have left. Plus, I can top up from home, whenever I need to.”
Check out more ways smart meters are changing the prepay smart meter experience below.
"SO, WILL PREPAY SMART METERS HELP SAVE ME MONEY?"
With prepay smart meters, simply having one will not automatically save you money. But the near real-time energy usage data smart meters offer will help you to make various adjustments that could help cut household costs.
Smart meters are also helping Britain build a more flexible and resilient energy system fit for the 21st century. This could bring consumers, the energy industry and wider economy up to £40 billion of benefits over the next few decades.
HOW YOU COULD SAVE MONEY WITH A PREPAYMENT SMART METER
Some people are using prepay smart meters to save money and budget more easily. And you could also make some savings by doing the following:
- Adjusting your energy use
- Keeping track of what you've spent and what you have left
- Shopping around for the tariff that's right for you
- Additionally, if you're eligible, applying for grants and benefits that help with your energy costs
You can find out more about each of these points below:
My name's Sarah, I live in Chelmsford, I've got two children, one's six and one's sixteen. Being able to afford and cover the bills right now is really hard.
The rise in the cost of living has impacted us significantly because the gas, the electric, the food bills, school uniform, you know, everything's gone up and it's impacting life a lot more. So I started noticing my bills were going up just before Christmas, and it's really hard to stay in control and know which ones to pay first. It might be a bill rather than a jumper for my child, you know? You can't control something that you've got no control over, so you have to just worry, and worry for the next month to the next month.
Previously, before having a smart meter, I wasn't really aware of how much the tumble dryer or the washing machine, leaving the cooker on, leaving the TV on costs. Whereas now having a smart meter, I'd consciously turn the cooker off in the evening, the washing machine, the tumble dryer, the VT goes off. The smart meter that I have does show me what I'm spending, what I've got left, when I need to top up. And that's a small bit of control that I have got.
As well as having the in-home display, I also have the app on my phone, which is perfect because whilst I'm at work throughout the day I'll check the app and if I can see that the meters are running low I can quickly top up, I don't have to leave. You know, really easy: just go to the app and top it straight up and then you can see that the balance has gone up within a couple of minutes.
Anyone that's struggling as in friends or family, I would recommend a smart meter because you definitely know what you're spending.
PREPAY CASE STUDY: SARAH'S STORY
Sarah lives in a rented house with her two children. She has a prepay smart meter and enjoys the flexibility of being able to top up at her local shop or online, from the comfort of her own home. She’s also found that having a smart meter makes budgeting that little bit easier:
HOW TO READ A PREPAYMENT SMART METER
Learning to read your prepayment in-home display is an important part of understanding how much energy you use, and what this equates to in pounds and pence.
Contact your energy supplier for their IHD user guide to help you read and understand your IHD.
More information on how to read a smart meter:
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
- How smart meters are helping people save - find out how others across Great Britain are saving money and energy with their smart meters.
- Energy saving tips in the kitchen with Ainsley Harriott - we teamed up with Ainsley to show how you can be more energy efficient in the kitchen.
- How smart meters could transform health and social care - as well as helping us save at home and upgrade our nation's energy system, smart meters also have the potential to help elderly and vulnerable people.
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