Help and FAQs
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 at no extra cost 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.
- 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 the end of 2025.
With more than 53 million smart meters requiring installation in around 30 million premises, the programme is one of the largest national infrastructure projects of our lifetimes.
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?
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:
- Our 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.
Here’s what is involved in fitting a smart meter:
- Perform checks to see if it’s all working properly.
- Offer you an in-home display and talk you through how to use it.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Will I have enough signal for a smart meter?
The information is communicated by either wireless networks HAN (home area network) or WAN (wide area network) which means they’re more reliable than just using mobile phone signals.
What is the difference between a smart meter and an in-home display?
Your smart meter is the fixed meter which is attached to your gas and/or electricity supply, similarly to a traditional meter. The in-home display is a portable device which wirelessly connects to your smart meter, providing information about how much energy you’re using in real terms such as £s.
My In-Home Display is showing no signal
Some In-Home Displays may get an error from time to time such as only showing information for one fuel or stating that the connection is lost. Issues such as these often resolve themselves wihtin 24 to 48 hours so please allow this time to pass. If you are still having problems please move your IHD closer to your smart meter and turn the IHD off/on using the power button which is usually located on the back of the device. If problems persist, please call 0141 249 3880 or email email@example.com for further help and advice.
My In-Home Display battery is draining quickly
We advise to leave your IHD plugged in as the batteries are only intended to be used as a back-up power source so don’t have a long life. IHDs are designed to be very low power devices, only costing a few £s per year to run if plugged in all year round.
My smart meter isn't sending readings to my supplier
Smart meters may occasionally lose connection but often connect again after a few hours or days. If it’s been a week since your installation and your smart meter has never connected properly, it may need to be recomissioned or have a deeper connection issue. If this is the case, please call 0141 249 3880 or email domesticmetering@sms-plc for help and advice.
My smart prepayment meter isn't showing my balance
Your prepayment balance may take a few days to transfer over to your new smart PAYG meter after your installation. Don’t worry about topping up during this transfer window as your supply will not be cut off. Once the transfer is complete, you’ll need to top up using one of the ways specified by your energy supplier whether that be through an app, online payment portal or regular shop.
How to top up a smart prepayment meter
One of the great benefits of smart prepayment meters is that you’re able to top up in more ways than you could with a traditional meter. The choice of top up options will be provided by your supplier but these are likely to include an online top up portal/app, Paypoint or Payzone and a range of retail shops. For more about the methods you can use to top up, please contact your supplier.
My top up hasn't gone through online
When you pay for a top up online, you’ll be provided with a UTRN (unique transaction reference number) which you can input onto the in-home display if the amount doesn’t get added remotely for reasons such as signal issues for your smart meter.
What happens to any credit/debt on my current meter?
You’ll keep any remaining credit/debt which will be transferred to your new meter but as this can take a few days, we suggest to use up as much of the remaining credit on your current meter as you can before the appointment.
The smart energy industry is full of terms that may not be familiar to all of us, but we want everyone to feel part of the smart energy revolution. Here are a few you may hear along your smart meter installation journey.