What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is a new type of gas and/or electricity meter (which will replace your existing meters, one for gas and one for electricity). A smart meter will send meter readings automatically to your energy supplier so all of your bills will be accurate.
Alongside the smart meter you will also get an 'in-home' monitor. This shows you how much energy you are using at a certain point in time and can also tell you how much energy you have used that day, that week or that month. You do not have to use this and it can be unplugged if someone is not interested or if there is a concern that it may lead to someone turning their heating off due to worries about the cost.
How much do smart meters cost?
It is free to get a smart meter but we are all ultimately paying for smart meters through our energy bills.
How do I get a smart meter?
You need to ask your energy supplier for a smart meter. If they have availability in your area then you should be able to book an appointment. If not, then you will be added to a waiting list.
What are the benefits?
1) Accurate bills - estimated meter readings can cause all sorts of problems and can lead to problems with debt. Energy suppliers do not come out to read meters as much as they used to so it can be common for months to go by before actual meter readings are provided. The smart meter will send your readings automatically so you will know that you are only paying for what you are using and you will avoid any shock catch-up bills.
2) Undertand your energy use - the in-home display will show you your energy use. This can help to understand how much things cost to run and identify opportunities to reduce your energy use.
3) Prepayment customers - getting a smart prepayment meter will enable you to top-up on your phone, online or over the phone rather than having to head out to the shop. The in-home monitor will also show you how much credit you have left. Smart meters will eventually make it easier to switch between paying as a prepayment customer and as a credit customer.
Can you switch supplier with a smart meter?
Having a smart meter does not prevent you from switching energy supplier. In the past there have been some issues around maintaining the 'smart' functionality when you switch but suppliers are now fitting 'second generation' smart meters which are compatible between different energy companies.
Can you have a smart meter if you rent your home?
Yes, if your name is on the bills at the property then you can ask to have a smart meter fitted. We'd suggest letting the landlord know out of courtesy but it is up to you and really a smart meter is just a new type of meter so there shouldn't be any concern about this.
Where can you get more information?
The Smart Energy GB website has a lot of useful information and additional FAQs around smart meters.