About smart meters

A smart meter replaces the traditional gas and electricity meters. They automatically send meter readings to your supplier, making your energy bills much more exact.

They also come with an In-Home Display (IHD) – a screen that shows you how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence in real time.

The benefits of having a smart meter include:

  • Automatic meter readings. Your smart meter will send readings to us automatically so you won't have to.
  • Accurate bills. The likelihood of estimated bills is less as smart meters send precise meter readings to us. So, you will only pay for the energy you use.
  • Monitoring your spending. With your IHD, you will be able to see in near real time your energy cost in pounds and pence. You can even set alerts and goals to reduce your usage.
  • Quicker response to power cuts. If there’s a power cut, your smart meter will be able to send a message to your local network provider, meaning your power should be restored sooner.
  • A smarter, greener energy grid. Smart meter data will allow operators to plan better and forecast energy demand more efficiently, leading to a more flexible energy system that uses greener sources.

It’s part of a national programme to future proof the outdated energy system. Our electricity demand is predicted to double by 2050, so our energy system needs to be modernised to cope.

All homes in Britain will be offered a smart meter from their supplier by the end of 2020. The government hopes this will encourage people to use their energy more efficiently and help tackle climate change.

Smart meters use their own secure, wireless network called the smart meter wide-area network, set up by the Data Communications Company.

They don’t use WiFi to send or receive data, so you don’t need an internet connection for them to work.

Smart meters use low level radio waves to send data, much like our radio’s, TV’s, and phones.

Public Health England (the Government watchdog for public health) has said that smart meters pose no risk to our health. Often, they emit fewer radio waves than our mobile phones.

Smart meters are also covered by UK and EU product safety legislation, so every meter fitted will be completely safe.

The smart meter wide area network, that sends data from your smart meter to your supplier was built by some of the best cybersecurity specialists. So it’s incredibly secure.

The only information that is stored on your smart meter is:

  • The current date and time
  • Your tariff details
  • Your gas and electricity usage and cost
  • Your meter readings
  • Your smart meter serial number
  • The date it was installed

Your name, address and bank details are never stored on your smart meter.

How much information your smart meter can capture is also strictly governed by data protection laws. You can decide:

  • How often your smart meter will send a reading to your supplier
  • Whether to share your energy data with other companies, like price comparison sites
  • If your supplier can use your data for marketing and sales purposes

More information about smart meter data is available here.

Yes, you can still switch supplier if you have a smart meter. But depending on what smart meter you have, and what supplier you are switching to, you may lose smart functions and need to send regular meter readings.

  • If your smart meter was installed before April 2019, it will likely be SMETS1
  • If your smart meter was installed after April 2019, it should SMETS2

If you have the first generation SMETS1 meter, you can still switch suppliers. But you will need to check whether your supplier can use it in smart mode.

Soon, SMETS1 meters will be connected to the wider smart communication system. Until then, it’s likely your SMETS1 will go back to a ‘dumb’ meter once you switch.

If you have a SMETS2 meter, these will stay smart once you switch. They’re already connected to the smart communication system, so you should have no issues switching supplier.

The smart meters installed by us will all be the latest model (SMETS2) meters.

If you are the account holder on energy bills, usually, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to have a smart meter installed. But we do suggest that you tell them first in case there are certain tenancy conditions relating to your energy meter.

If your landlord handles paying the energy bills, then they will need to arrange the installation.

We can’t currently offer smart meters to customers with a prepayment meter. But we expect to offer smart prepayment later in 2020. This will allow prepayment customers to top-up in other ways, such as through our website.

When this happens, we’ll let you know.

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