Introducing smart meters and prepay
If you already prepay for your energy, upgrading to a smart meter could benefit you – from easier top-ups to keeping a closer eye on your energy usage.
What is a smart meter and how does it work with prepay?
Smart meters can work in prepayment mode. They measure your energy usage, send your usage information securely to your energy supplier, and also come with a handy in-home display allowing you to see how much energy you’re using and your available credit. That means no more hunting for your meter under the stairs or outside when you need to check your balance or top-up.
What are the advantages of smart prepay?
Your in-home display will show you how much credit you have left on your account. When the time comes to top-up, you could do it online, on an app, by phone or text depending on supplier, saving you time and hassle. But if you prefer, though, you can still top-up at a shop.
Do prepay customers pay more for their electricity and gas?
Historically, prepay customers have paid more for their electricity and gas than direct debit customers. This is because energy suppliers have higher costs to service prepay customers (from collecting payments to issuing vouchers). But in the 2023 Budget, the government announced that they would scrap the unfair charge on prepay customers, meaning they will no longer pay more on average for their energy than direct debit customers.
Can your meter be switched to prepay mode without your consent?
The rules around how and why customers with either smart or analogue meters can be switched from credit to prepay are very carefully controlled by Ofgem, the energy regulator for Great Britain. This switch should only occur as a last resort, and where it is safe to do so. You can find out more about the regulations regarding energy meter switching on the Ofgem website.
Help for those worried about the rising costs of energy
If you are worried about the rising cost of energy and being able to pay your energy bills, we have information on support and help below which may be available.