Should I get a smart meter?
Most energy suppliers offer smart meters as part of their package. But are they worth it? Let’s take a look.
According to Ofgem research, around 46% of people have a smart meter. And 71% of people said they were satisfied with their smart meter.
Smart meters are being rolled out by most suppliers across the UK. So, should you jump on the bandwagon?
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What is a smart meter?
A smart meter tells you how much gas and electricity you’ve used, just like a normal meter.
The difference is that a smart meter sends your energy information to your supplier. This is automatic and uses a secure network.
You can say goodbye to estimated bills and hello to only paying for energy you use!
How do smart meters work?
Smart meters have two parts: the meter itself, and the display unit.
Qualified engineers install the new meters, which replace your existing units. These units send your meter readings to your supplier.
The display unit gives you a real-time update on how much energy you’re using. This is to help you keep your usage in check so you’re not paying too much.
You’ll be able to see the meter tick up as you boil the kettle or watch TV. This should help you make better use of your energy and save some cash in the process.
Some suppliers also have smart meter apps, which give you a deeper look at how you use your energy. Some even let you budget your use from the app itself.
How do I get a smart meter?
The government says that everyone in the UK should have a smart meter by 2025.
But not all suppliers currently offer them. The ones that do are rolling them out bit-by-bit.
It's best to get in touch with your energy supplier as your first port of call. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and arrange a date to install the meter.
With the coronavirus pandemic, your supplier may want to take extra precautions.
How do I read a smart meter?
You don’t need to take readings with a smart meter – your supplier automatically gets these.
But if you’re curious, your display unit should give you all the information you need.
The specifics will depend on your particular unit. But most should be able to show you your daily, weekly or monthly energy usage.
Are smart meters free?
Yes. There’s no extra charge to having a smart meter installed.
What happens to my smart meter when I switch suppliers?
That depends on the type of smart meter you have. There are two kinds of smart meter around at the moment - SMETS1 and SMETS2.
If you’re getting a smart meter for the first time, you’ll likely get a SMETS2.
With the newer SMETS2 meter, you should be able to switch supplier without any hassle.
If you have a SMETS1 meter, you might need to send a final meter reading to your supplier yourself.
SMETS1 meters can sometimes lose connection with the network when you switch suppliers.
This is sometimes known as the meter ‘going dumb’. Get in touch with your supplier if you’ve any concerns about this.
READ MORE: The energy supplier switching process
Should I get a smart meter?
No more estimated bills.
Real-time updates on how you’re using your energy.
No more poking around in cobweb filled cupboards to get meter readings.
There may be a wait to get one installed
Some suppliers might not yet offer them. If that’s the case, switching suppliers might be worth considering.
If you have an older model, it could lose connection when you switch suppliers.
Can I get a smart meter if I’m on a pre-payment meter?
Yes, you can - you can get a smart pay as you go (PAYG) meter.
Some smart PAYG meters use an app to tell you when you’re low on credit. You can use the app to top up your meter.
No more queueing at your local corner shop just to top up the gas!
Can I get a smart meter if I’m renting?
If you’re the one paying the energy bills, then yes you can. And you don’t need your landlord’s permission to do so (though giving them a heads up is common courtesy).
If your landlord pays the bills, they’ll need to request the smart meter themselves.