Lowering bills, cutting carbon
16 Dec 2019
If there’s one thing we get asked about more than anything else, it’s smart meters. Below, we’ve listed the three things we think everyone should know about smart meters, but before we get to that, let’s cover some of the basics…
What are smart meters?
Smart meters are gas or electricity meters that send information on how much energy you use to your supplier over the internet, removing the need for manual meter readings. They also display information on how much energy you’ve used, and when, helping to find ways to reduce energy consumption and hopefully, lower your bills.
Who pays for them?
We’re all paying for the roll out of smart meters through our energy bills. On the plus side, that means there’s no direct cost when you have one installed.
What’s happened so far?
The government has rolled out its smart meter programme in two phases. The first generation of smart meters (known as SMETS 1) were installed up to the middle of 2019. Unlike the second generation meters (known as SMETS 2), first generation meters generally don’t offer the same functionality across different energy suppliers (more on this below).
Most suppliers are now installing SMETS2 meters. If you’ve got a smart meter and are unsure which version it is, contact us or ask your current supplier.
The 3 things you need to know about smart meters
1. Whatever kind of smart meter you have, you can still switch
Although first generation smart meters usually lose some of their smart functionality if you switch supplier, this doesn’t mean you can’t switch. The main impact will be that you’ll have to go back to giving manual meter readings for a time. But even that won’t be for long – the government is currently working on a remote upgrade to SMETS 1 meters that will make them work across all suppliers, at which point your meter will become ‘smart’ again. If you have a second generation smart meter, you should be fine to switch, although bear in mind that some suppliers, like So Energy, have waited until the teething problems with the smart meter roll out were solved and so aren’t yet supporting them. Most will start to do so by the middle of 2020. Until then, your meter may go ‘dumb’, but will regain its ‘smartness’ when they push the button on their smart meter programme.
2. You don’t have to have a smart meter if you don’t want one
Although the government is encouraging all homes to have smart meters, you don’t have to have one if you don’t want one. The only time this could change is if your current meter needs replacing at some point in the future, and by that time it has become difficult to source parts for ‘traditional’ meters, in which case your supplier may have no other choice.
3. You don’t have to give your smart meter back when you switch
Because smart meters are offered by your current supplier, many people expect to have to give them back if they switch. In fact your supplier is only responsible for looking after the meter as long as you are buying energy from them. If you switch supplier, your new provider will take on responsibility for the meter. No need for engineers visits!
If you have any questions about smart meters that we haven’t answered, do get in touch via our live chat or email. You can also see more info on the smart meter roll out at www.smartenergygb.org.