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.


What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is an intelligent, digital device designed to replace your traditional gas and electricity meter.

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).

This video explains how we use energy in our homes and offers simple advice on improving energy efficiencies with a smart meter.

What is smart metering? 

Smart metering is the near real-time measurement of energy consumption by means of a smart meter (a digital metering device). Smart metering is digitising our energy system and, as a consequence, laying the foundations for our future smart energy grid – the digital, interconnected national network that will provide us with a more modern, more efficient, and cleaner supply of power.

What are the benefits of smart meters?

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.
How do smart meters work?

Smart meters work by measuring your gas and electricity usage, just like traditional meters. 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.

What is the smart meter rollout?

The smart meter rollout is a government programme which aims to install a smart meter in every domestic property (homes and small businesses) by mid 2025. Read our guide on the smart meter rollout.

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.

How can I get a smart meter?

Everyone will be offered the chance to upgrade to a new smart meter before the end of 2021. 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 installed.

How long does it take to fit 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 around an hour for one smart meter to be installed, and around 1.5 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.

How are smart meters installed?

Here’s what is involved in fitting a smart meter:

  1. 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
  2. You, or someone at your house will need to let the installer in, and make sure your meters are easily accessible beforehand
  3. Your qualified installer will show you ID before they start
  4. 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
  5. 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

How is data used by smart meters?

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 also 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.

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 also 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.

Is my data safe with a smart meter?

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.

What a smart meter looks like

How much does a smart meter cost?

Smart meters are installed by energy suppliers at no upfront cost to their customers. Rather than costing you anything, smart meters are in fact a great tool to help you save money by giving you better insight into how much energy you consume, or by opening up access to cheaper tariffs available only to smart meter users.

How do smart meters save money?

Smart meters will not save you money simply by being installed, unless you switch to a smart meter tariff which may offer a better rate than a standard tariff. Generally, you'll have to be proactive to reduce your energy costs and lower your bills. The best way to do this is to use the digital in-home display that you'll be offered with a smart meter to keep track of how much energy you're using and make changes to your usage based on this. Find out more about how to use less energy with a smart meter here.

Do I need to be connected to the internet to use a smart meter?

No. Smart meters use a different, unique wireless system that connects to your in-home your In-Home Display and sends accurate readings to your energy supplier. You don't need Wi-Fi in your home for it to work.

Do I need separate smart meters for gas and electricity?

Yes. If you have electricity and gas supplied to your home, you will have a smart meter installed for each supply.

Is it a legal requirement to have a smart meter fitted?

Having a smart meter is not obligatory and is entirely up to you.

Will a smart meter work with any supplier?

Second-generation (SMETS2) smart meters, which began to be installed in 2019, will work with any supplier – even if you switch provider. First generation smart meters (SMETS1), which were mostly installed before 2020 but have now been phased out, are not automatically interoperable between suppliers. However, the Data Communications Company (DCC) – the company which runs the smart meter network – is currently migrating all SMETS1 smart meters onto its system over the air. This means that once this migration is completed (expected in 2022) all first-generation meters will work with any supplier.

What types of smart meters are there?

There are two kinds of smart meter – SMETS1 and SMETS2 – which represent the first and second generations of the technology (SMETS stands for 'Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications'). While all smart meters are either SMETS1 or SMETS2, there are different types of these meters depending on your supply. For example, a large home or business which uses lots of electricity might have what is known as a 3-phase smart meter.

Can I have a smart meter if I rent?

If you pay for the energy bills in your rented property, you can opt to have a smart meter installed. If your rental agreement stipulates you need your landlord's permission to alter metering at your property, they should not unreasonably prevent it.


Learn more about smart meters: