Smart Meters: Frequently Asked Questions
There are a lot of questions and confusion around smart meters. Our FAQs aims to clear up any doubts you might have.
A smart meter is an intelligent, digital device designed to replace your traditional gas and electricity meter, which
Fitted with an in-home display screen, smart meters show you your exact energy usage in pounds and pence (in near real time). Installing a smart meter will make estimated bills a thing of the past, and enable you to actively manage and reduce your energy consumption.
Smart meters are available for installation completely free of charge through energy suppliers across Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).
The smart meter rollout is a government programme which aims to install a smart meter in every domestic property (homes and small businesses) by the end of 2020.
With more than 53 million smart meters requiring installation in around 30 million premises, the programme – one of the largest national infrastructure projects of our lifetimes – is now already well underway.
As an expert smart metering service provider, we have been entrusted by the country's leading energy suppliers to help implement the rollout and introduce this next generation of meters nationwide.
Just like traditional meters, smart meters measure your gas and electricity usage. However, because of new intelligent, digital technology, you’ll be able to monitor your usage and see exactly how much it is costing you through an in-home digital display.
Smart meters also relieve you of the hassle of manual meter readings as they send an automatic reading to your energy supplier at least once a month. Your bills will no longer be based on estimates, which means you will receive accurate bills and won’t under or overpay again. Read our quick guide on how to use your smart meter.
Smart meters offer a range of benefits. They:
- give accurate readings, putting an end to estimated bills;
- display near real-time information on your energy usage, letting you see exactly how much you spend each day, week and month;
- allow you to understand your energy usage better, enabling you to save money and reduce emissions; and
- will support the introduction of ‘time-of-use tariffs’, allowing people to change their usage behaviour to reduce their energy costs by using energy during off-peak hours (Like running your dishwasher or washing machine overnight or charging your electric vehicle outside of peak times). This change of usage behaviour will also reduce the strain on power generation and the UK energy network and reducing related power cuts.
Everyone will be offered the chance to upgrade to a new smart meter before the end of 2020. Your energy supplier will contact you and install the meter, along with an in-home display, free of charge.
If you don’t want to wait, you can contact your energy supplier directly and request for one to be fitted.
Read our step-by-step guide to getting a smart meter.
One smart meter takes around one hour on average to install, but this can vary depending on the status of your current meter i.e. how old it is and how it is set up. We would advise on accounting for just over an hour for one smart meter to be installed, and around 2.5 hours if you’re having both your electric and gas meter replaced with smart meters.
If in doubt about how the status of your current meter may affect your installation time, please contact your energy supplier.
Here’s what is involved in fitting a smart meter:
- Your energy supplier, or your supplier's contracted installer, will contact you to arrange a day and time and advise on how to prepare for the installation
- You, or someone at your house will need to let the installer in, and make sure your meters are easily accessible beforehand
- Your qualified installer will show you ID before they start
- Your smart meter is normally fitted in the same spot as your old one, but if it needs to be moved, the installer will check with you first
- Once fitted, the installer will:
a. perform checks to see if it's all working properly
b. offer you an in-home display and talk you through how to use it
c. answer your questions and tell you where to find more help if needed
Smart meters safely and securely store data on how much energy you use. This data is shared with you via your in-home display and – with your permission – with your energy supplier, who are sent only the meter readings. Your supplier will then use this data to provide you with accurate energy bills. No personal data about you is collected, stored or shared by your meter.
Energy network operators can only see anonymised consumption data. This is used to get a better understanding of local and national energy usage to deal with electricity demand more efficiently.
Unlike your home computer, tablet or smartphone, smart meters are not connected to the Internet. Instead, they operate over a closed secure private network, which removes the threat of hacking. By any means, unlike your social media account, smart meters do not hold your life history or personal information – only how much energy you are using.
Remember, the data your smart meter captures about your energy usage is strongly protected by law. You have control over it, including the right to decide:
- how often your smart meter sends data to your energy supplier
- whether to share data with other organisations, like price comparison websites
- if your supplier can use your meter readings for sales and marketing purposes.