How secure are smart meters?
The smart meter system is very secure and smart meters are not dangerous. Security has been at the heart of the whole smart meter rollout programme from its very inception, and the system has been specifically designed to prevent hacking.
Smart meters do not use the Internet, and they have their own closed, dedicated communications system. Smart meters have been designed with top cybersecurity experts, including the government and GCHQ, to ensure that security best practice has been incorporated at every stage.
What data do smart meters store?
Your smart meter has information about how much gas and electricity you’ve used but doesn’t store other personal information that could identify you, such as your name, address or bank account.
All this information about your energy use is strongly protected. The law, which is explained in the Energy UK Data guide for smart meters, puts strict controls on:
- your data
- who can access it
- how you choose to share it
It’s your data – you choose what you want to do with it and you can change your mind about how much you share, and how often, at any time. So, you can choose:
- how often your smart meter sends data to your gas and electricity supplier (monthly is minimum, daily or half-hourly are optional)
- whether to share data about your energy use with other organisations, like switching sites
- if your supplier can use your meter readings for sales and marketing purposes
How is my personal data kept safe when I have a smart meter?
Personal data is secure in the smart meter system. For a start, no details of your name, address or your bank account or any other financial details are stored by your smart meter. The only information stored on it is how much gas and electricity you have been using and what tariff you have chosen.
Any data that is stored belongs to you. No one can have access to that information without your permission. None of your information is transmitted via the internet. Instead, smart meters have their own secure, dedicated communications system that employs technology widely used by, for example, the banking industry.
Can my energy supplier use my data for marketing purposes?
Your supplier will not use any data from your smart meter for sales and marketing purposes unless you've given them permission to do so.
How will a smart meter save me money?
Smart meters make it easier for us to identify the situations where we're using a lot of energy and might want to make changes to reduce it.
If you use the information shown on your in-home display to help reduce your energy use, you should be able to cut your energy costs. Smart meters also mean accurate bills, so you can be confident that you're only paying for what you've used, rather than overpaying, as you sometimes do with estimates.
Can a smart meter help me become more energy efficient?
Smart meters are paving the way for a more energy efficient future. They make it easier for us to identify the situations where we're using a lot of energy and might want to make changes to reduce it. They're also a crucial step towards the development of the smart grid, a whole new way of running our energy network. Energy suppliers will be better equipped to plan and manage Great Britain's electricity and gas whilst also matching supply and demand.
In the future, we can look forward to being rewarded with cheaper tariffs at off-peak times. This means we will pay less to mow the lawn or run the washing machine when electricity is not in high demand. It will also mean less pressure on the grid at busier times when we’re all rustling up our dinner or putting on the kettle whilst the adverts are on TV.
In addition, smart appliances will be able to interact with smart meter systems to help us save energy. For example, you could set your dishwasher to come on when electricity is cheapest or get a text from your house if you leave the heating on by mistake.