Smart Meter FAQs

Smart Meter FAQs2022-09-29T10:54:17+01:00
  • Smart meter with computer

Could a smart meter help you to cut your energy bills?

Smart meters are replacing traditional gas and electricity meters as part of a nationwide infrastructure upgrade.  The benefits touted by energy providers eager to install the technology are numerous. Most obviously, the data from smart meters enables energy suppliers to accurately charge their customers for the exact amount of energy they use. By helping consumers see of the amount of energy they use on a daily basis, they can help you spot ways to reduce your usage and save money. This could also help to deliver on our long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

About 50% of all meters in the UK are now smart meters but that doesn’t mean that they are right for everyone. The FAQs below aim to help you to find out more and make the right decision for your home and your situation.

Smart meters and the in-home display

What are smart meters?2022-06-09T11:34:07+01:00

Smart meters record how much electricity or gas households use – just like existing meters. But with a smart meter, customers can also see how much energy they are using, on the in-home display.

The in-home display is sometimes called an IHD. It comes with the smart meter, and can help households keep a closer eye on how much energy they are using, and how much it’s costing them. Having a smart meter means getting a bill based on how much energy has been used – not an estimate. This could help customers take some of the guesswork out of balancing their budget.

Even better, smart meters send gas and electricity readings directly and securely to the energy supplier so customers shouldn’t have to.

How do smart meters work?2022-06-09T11:38:04+01:00

There are 3 components that make up the smart metering system within a home:

1. The smart meter (one each for gas and electricity)

2. The in-home display

3. The communications hub

Do I need a broadband connection in my home to have a smart meter?2021-09-13T15:12:39+01:00

Smart meters use an entirely separate, bespoke 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 have it.

What about storing off-peak night-time electricity as well?2024-01-03T14:38:12+00:00

This is a way to maximise the benefit of your battery – charging it during the night with cheaper off-peak electricity from the national grid and then using that cheaper electricity during the day. This is particularly useful in the winter months when there is much less solar energy. 

The key to this is finding the right tariff. Economy 7 tariffs provide different day and nighttime rates, but some suppliers are withdrawing them. The likely replacements are time of use tariffs, or TOUs. As opposed to a flat rate model, the TOUs charge a dynamic hourly price that is responsive to supply and demand of energy. You will need a smart meter to be able to access this kind of tariff. For more information, visit the Energy Saving Trust’s website. It lists some providers, but will need to do your own research into what tariffs are currently available. 

How do the 3 smart meter components work together?2022-06-09T16:53:47+01:00

1. The smart meter records the customers energy use, as they use it.

2. The in-home display shows how much energy customers are using, and what they’ve spent.

3. The smart meter automatically sends a reading to the energy supplier.

4. Customers get a bill based on the amount of gas and electricity they have used.

How does the in-home display work?2022-06-09T16:53:24+01:00

The in-home display is a handheld, digital device that sits in the home. They give customers accurate, accessible, and near-real time consumption and pricing information. Each in-home display is securely paired with the smart meters in the home, taking information from them and displaying this for the customer.

Energy suppliers are obliged to offer domestic customers an in-home display at the point of installation so that customers can visibly see their energy consumption, and in turn use the device to see the positive impact that any energy saving has on their bills. Non-domestic businesses should speak to their supplier directly about how they can access their energy data, as they may not be offered an in-home display.

Energy suppliers offer different in-home displays, which means customer’s in-home displays may look different to their friend’s or neighbour’s.

What does the in-home display show customers?2022-06-09T16:52:17+01:00

The in-home display will show:

• your gas and electricity costs

• your energy costs each day, week and month

• if you’re using a small or large amount of gas and electricity

• your spending goals (only available on some in-home displays). They could use this to make changes and spend less if they want to.

If customers only have a smart meter for gas, the in-home display will only show them how much gas they use. If they only have a smart meter for electricity, the in-home display will only show them how much electricity they use.

What is an accessible in-home display?2022-06-09T16:50:45+01:00

The accessible in-home display is sometimes called an AIHD. If customers need an accessible in-home display, they’re available from some suppliers.

An accessible in-home display could be helpful if customers are:

• blind or partially sighted.

have difficulties using their hands or wrists.

have difficulties with memory loss.

They have larger buttons and can read information out loud. Customers should ask their energy supplier about an accessible in-home display.

Can customers take their in-home display with them when they move?2022-06-09T16:48:04+01:00

The in-home display is securely paired specially with the smart meters in that home, and will only work with those smart meters. This means a customer should not take the in-home display with them if they move.

If a customer moves into a new home which has a smart meter but no in-home display, they should contact their energy supplier.

Switching supplier, tariffs and bills

Can I switch tariff or energy supplier if I have a smart meter?2021-09-13T15:20:29+01:00

Yes. People with a smart meter can switch energy supplier and tariff in exactly the same way that anyone with a traditional meter can.

Do smart meters work with prepay?2021-09-13T15:21:28+01:00

Smart meters will make prepay as easy as pay-as-you-go on your mobile or tablet. If you choose smart prepay, you should be able to conveniently see how much credit you have left on your in-home display, using an app, over the phone, or via text. 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 and you’ll always be able to top-up with cash.

Can I get a smart meter if I am on an Economy 7 or an Economy 10 tariff?2021-09-13T15:22:18+01:00

If you have an Economy 7 or 10 electricity supply, you can get a smart meter as part of the national rollout. But it does depend on which energy supplier is ready to install one for you. Smart meters of this type will be available at a larger scale later in the rollout.

Will I still be sent energy bills?2021-09-13T15:22:59+01:00

Yes. Your in-home display is for information only. You will still receive regular energy bills in the same way you do now, whether that’s in the post or online, but now they’ll be accurate, without you having to submit a manual meter reading.

I have a smart meter so why is my supplier asking for a reading?2021-09-13T15:23:48+01:00

As with all wireless technology, smart meters may occasionally experience connectivity issues. Just like mobile phone or Wi-Fi networks, these problems can be caused by several issues that can usually be resolved quickly. If your smart meter cannot communicate with your energy supplier via the designated wireless network, they may ask you for a temporary manual meter reading so that your bills will remain accurate until the problem is resolved.

About the rollout

Are smart meters compulsory?2021-09-13T15:24:59+01:00

Smart meters are not compulsory; it’s entirely your choice. The government requires energy suppliers to offer smart meters to all homes across Great Britain by the end of 2025, but whether you accept them is completely up to you.

Do I have to pay for a smart meter?2021-09-13T15:26:10+01:00

There is no additional cost for installation of your smart meter. At the point of installation you may be offered an in-home display that shows your spending in near-real time for no additional cost. You won’t have an extra charge on your bill because you choose to have a smart meter. The costs will be spread across everyone’s bills, just like the cost of running and maintaining today’s traditional meters are.

Safety and security

Can smart meters access my data?2021-09-13T15:27:32+01:00

No, the data your smart meter captures about your energy usage is strongly protected by law. Smart meters were designed in consultation with the UK’s top security experts, and can only measure the amount of energy you use. Personal details like your name, address and bank account details are not stored on, or transmitted by, your smart meter. Rest assured, smart meters operate on a secure system, ensuring data is only visible to the energy supplier and authorised parties where consumer consent is given.

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