Everything you need to know about smart meters
Our guide tells you more about the world of smart meters.
What is a smart meter?
Smart meters will replace the traditional gas and electricity meters we’ve been using for decades.
They send automatic meter readings straight to your energy supplier, meaning an end to estimated bills and the hassle of meter readings. You’ll also be offered a digital smart meter display, which will show you exactly how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence. So there should be no nasty surprises when you get your bill.
How do I get a smart meter?
The government has set a goal to install smart meters in all properties by 2020, beginning rollout in 2015. Your energy supplier will be responsible for installing the meter, free of charge.
If you can’t wait, you can go to the Smart Energy GB website (www.smartenergygb.org) for more information or contact your supplier to see if they’re installing in your area now.
What will a smart meter cost?
There’s no additional cost to you. In fact, because it will give you information on how much you’re spending, your smart meter can help you see which appliances are using lots of energy and help in making changes to save energy.
Smart meters will also mean the end of estimated bills, so you’ll only pay for what you actually use.
What if I have a prepayment meter?
Your smart meter will make prepayment as easy as using a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. You’ll be able to monitor how much credit you have left on your hand-held digital smart meter display, so no need to keep checking your meter. You’ll also be able to add money automatically online, via an app, over the phone, by text-message or in person. So no more need for your card or key.
Smart meters will also mean that pre pay customers will no longer have to pay a huge premium for their energy.
I’m not very tech-savvy. Will I be able to use it?
Smart meters send information automatically to your supplier, so you won’t need to do your own meter reading. Using a digital smart meter display is as simple as checking the time on a clock. It will show you exactly how much energy you’re using and how much it’s costing.
How are they different from other energy gadgets?
You can buy energy monitors that track how much electricity you’re using, but they can’t measure your gas use. A smart meter is different because your energy supplier will install it for free. They’re the only devices that can send your readings directly to your supplier and show you how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence.
Is there a catch to smart meters?
Smart meters have previously caused some controversy. Some people are worried about the overall cost (estimated to be billions of pounds) and how energy companies plan to recoup that cost over time from consumers. There are also concerns about data security as details are transmitted to suppliers.
Can I refuse to have a smart meter installed?
Yes. You are not obliged to have a smart meter. You should discuss any concerns with your energy supplier.