EducationalSmart Meters

What are Smart Meters? -FAQ

By now, you’ve probably heard all about Smart Meters, you may even have one! But there is plenty of information around which we have decided to drag together into one place.

Read on to find out the most frequently asked questions we receive regarding Smart Meters.

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace the traditional meters, including prepay key meters.

What do smart meters do?

A smart meter sends automatic meter readings directly and securely to your energy supplier, resulting in accurate bills, an end to estimates and manual meter readings. The accompanying in-home display is a handheld digital device, that sits in your home and allows you to see how much energy you're using and what it's costing you in pounds and pence in near real time. This may be called lots of things, like an IHD or smart meter display. Both your smart meter and in-home display will be installed by your energy supplier at no extra cost.

How do smart meters work?

Your smart meter measures how much gas and electricity you use and securely shares this directly with your energy supplier and your in-home display (the bit you'll use).

You won't have to take any meter readings manually – your smart meter will send automatic readings to your energy supplier via a secure national network which is solely for smart meters. This works in the same way as other wireless systems like car remote keys or TVs, using radio waves. Though it is a wireless system, you don’t need Wi-Fi in your home for it to work. And it won’t use your Wi-Fi if you do have it.

Do I need one smart meter for gas and another for electricity?

Yes, both meters will be replaced.

If you're a dual-fuel customer, your supplier will aim to install both meters on the same visit to make things as easy as possible. You will only need one in-home display to view both your gas and electricity usage.

If your gas and electricity accounts are with different suppliers, you will have two separate smart meter installations (one from each of your suppliers).

Do I have a smart meter?

As part of the smart meter rollout, smart meters must comply with technical specifications that will enable you to switch energy supplier. However, if your meters were installed several years ago, they may be early smart-type meters and may not meet these specifications.

Please check with your energy supplier to see if your meters comply with "Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications" (SMETS). If they do not meet these standards, then you'll be able to ask your supplier for more information about how you can get your smart meters installed.

Alternatively, if you have a gadget at home that helps monitor how much electricity you're using, this could be an energy monitor.

How accurate are smart meters?

Smart meters are as accurate as traditional meters. Energy suppliers receive very few complaints about them.

By law, all smart meters have to be certified by the Office for Product Safety & Standards to prove their accuracy, but if you do think there's a fault, you can report it to your energy supplier in the same way you do now.

What are the benefits for me?

There are plenty of gadgets that can help control energy use, but smart meters have two unique features:

  • they show exactly how much energy you’re using and what it’s costing, in near-real time
  • they send accurate meter readings to your energy supplier, so no more estimated bills or manual meter readings

With your smart meter, you’ll always be able to keep track of exactly how much gas and electricity you’re using in near real time, and what it costs in pounds and pence. This means you can be confident that you're only paying for what you have actually used and you'll always know what to expect in your next bill, so no more nasty surprises.

What are the benefits for everyone?

Smart meters are a vital upgrade to Great Britain’s energy system. The way we measure and pay for gas and electricity hasn't kept up to speed with improvements across almost every other area of our lives. Smart meters will enable a more efficient, greener, smarter energy system and lay the foundations for smart grids, which are a whole new way of running our energy networks.

What if I have a prepay meter?

Smart meters will make prepay as easy as pay-as-you-go on your mobile. If you choose smart prepay, you should be able to:

  • conveniently see how much credit you have left on your in-home display, without having to manually read or access the meter
  • top-up when and where you want to - online, with an app, or on the telephone.
  • top-up in person at your local store/outlet, without any need to put a key or card back into a meter. Payments will automatically be added to your account. You will always be able to top-up with cash

I'm on prepay and access to my meter is not always easy. Can smart meters help?

Yes. With a smart meter, you don't need a different kind of meter for prepaying. With a smart meter in prepay mode, you'll no longer need to access your meter. You'll be able to see how much credit you have left via your in-home display and top-up in a number of ways, including online, via an app or telephone. And you can still top up in person at a local shop/outlet. Credit will be automatically added to your account without any need to put a key or card back into your meter.

Can I get a smart meter if I am on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff?

Many suppliers who offer Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs are also currently offering compatible smart meters, but others haven’t started to do so yet. All suppliers will be able to support your current Economy 7 and 10 set up once they start rolling out the second generation of smart meters (due in coming months). We do not currently support Economy 10 meters

Keep an eye out for further blogs covering Smart Meters and the questions we are often asked regarding them.

 If you are interested in having a Smart Meter – why not submit your interest here and we’ll contact you when we are fitting Smart Meters in your area.