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Smart meters: the next generation of energy meters

Smart meters: the next generation of energy meters

24th May, 2022

In a bid to upgrade the UK’s energy system, energy suppliers are installing smart meters as part of a national government programme to replace older energy and prepayment meters.

Smart meters are growing in popularity nationwide – some of you may have one installed already.

But, for those of you who don’t know much about them or the government’s plans set to roll out, here’s all you need to know:

Available for both gas and electric, smart meters provide automatic (accurate – not estimated) meter readings. But, most importantly, they’ll keep you updated with how much energy you’re using and how much it’s costing you (the only information we’re truly interested in given today’s climate).

When the time comes, your energy supplier will contact you to schedule a date and time for the installation of your smart meter device and provide you with all the relevant information - including how long the installation is expected to take and what, if anything, you need to do.

It’s not your responsibility to install the device. All energy suppliers must aim to install smart meters in every home in Great Britain and they are responsible for fitting any equipment.

Unless there is a good reason not to, suppliers must install a smart meter if they are replacing a meter or installing a meter for the first time, such as in a new property.

For now, you can choose not to accept an offer to have a smart meter fitted and can instead request to have one at a later date without being charged.

However, if choosing not to have a smart meter, you may have a limited choice of energy tariffs and some smart tariffs could be cheaper meaning you could miss out.

There may be a wait to get a smart meter installed and some suppliers might not yet offer them. If that’s the case, switching suppliers might be worth considering. Although, if you have an older model, it could lose connection when you switch suppliers.

Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) says: “Nationally, smart meters are central to our shift to a cleaner, more flexible energy system.

“We need to be able to adapt to the new, greener ways we now generate energy, such as through wind or solar power. Also to changing uses of energy, such as electric vehicle charging.

“For example, smart meters will record your energy use every 30 minutes. Suppliers could offer you tariffs that reduce your charges if you use power when it is cheaper for them to buy it on the wholesale market.

“Or it could be when it is cheaper to supply it to you, such as on a sunny or windy day.”
The great thing about smart meters is that tour in-home display shows your credit balance, so you won’t unknowingly run out. Plus, energy suppliers may be able to offer new and more flexible ways to top up, so you might not have to visit a shop to do so.

Your smart meter installer must follow a code of practice - this sets a minimum standard for fitting a smart meter. If you have a complaint with an installer, you can usually take a complaint further with their trade body if you can’t resolve it.

You can learn more about the code of practice and information about the government’s smart meter rollout plan on the Smart Energy GB website.

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* Please note that the above information has been gathered through secondary research. The information provided is not based on our opinion. You should seek further guidance and information before making an informed decision.

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