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Energy suppliers are offering the opportunity to upgrade to a smart meter. They have implemented socially distant ways of installing smart meters and safety procedures to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. Eligibility may vary.

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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.

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An installer installing a 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.

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

How to top up your prepay meter with 2 options. Get a smart meter and top up from home, or if you don't have a smart meter, you'll have to grab your electricity key, get dressed to go to the shop, and queue before realising you've forgotten your wallet.

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.

Helping you reduce your energy usage

Smart meters can help you change your energy behaviours, which could help you reduce the amount of money you spend on energy. 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. *

*Source: Revolutionising the Prepay Experience February 2019

See how Elspeth has used her smart meter to make budgeting that little bit easier:

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.

Citizens Advice Report

"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 can help cut household costs.

Find out how smart meter owners have saved between £10-£20 a month.

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:

How to use a prepay smart meter

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:

How to read a smart meter

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