What’s in this guide?
Smart meters are the next generation of the meter that is being pushed by the UK government to be installed in every home by the year 2020.
So do you have a smart meter, or are you considering getting one?
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about smart meters, how smart meters are installed, smart meter installation costs and what you can expect from your supplier.
What is a smart meter?
Contrary to what you may have heard, the current smart meter that is being rolled out, often referred to as the ‘first generation’, isn’t as smart as you may think.
Essentially, if you decide to switch suppliers after you get this first generation installed, you may lose some of your smart meters features.
Switching can save homes up to £200 a year on their energy every year, so surely not having full functionality if you switch is a negative in the smart meter column?
Hopefully not for long.
The second generation of the smart meter, which means that you won’t lose functionality when you switch plus other features, are the development to keep your eye on.
Unfortunately, these smart meters probably won’t be released until late 2018 at the earliest.
However, the first generation of a smart meter will be updated remotely when it’s time.
How can I get a smart meter?
If you’re considering a switch to a smart meter, the great news is that right now you can get a smart meter for free, thanks to the government push.
It does depend, however, on your supplier.
Most companies are gradually rolling out smart meters in specific areas at a time, so typically what you will have to do is get in contact with your supplier and see if smart meters are available in your area.
Sometimes you will be put on a waiting list for a smart meter, so either way, it may be good to get in touch and see.
Also, Ofgem has placed some rules in place for the installation of your device. Skip to the installation process to see more.
Is a smart meter right for me?
It is important to note that you aren’t obliged to have a smart meter installed, so if your supplier contacts you there is nothing to stop you from saying no.
To decide whether a smart meter might be right for you, there are several factors to take into consideration.
For instance, did you know that with a smart meter, you will never have to submit meter readings yourself?
Or that due to the smart meter measuring your energy usage in real time, you’ll never overpay or underpay for your energy?
Many customers have opted into smart meters for these reasons, but what are the cons?
Let’s take a closer look at the full pros and cons that go into smart meters.
Smart meter pros
✔ Monitor your energy usage in real time
✔ Save money by understanding where your energy is going
✔ Only pay for the energy you use
✔ Say goodbye to manual meter readings
✔ No more estimated billing
✔ Switching should be easy with the 2nd generation of smart meters
Smart meter cons
✗ With the first generation, switching could lose functionality
✗ They might not be available in your area
✗Some customers have expressed that organising an installation from their supplier has been complicated
✗Smart meters give off radio waves that have been upsetting to some customers; however, they have proven that these waves aren’t harmful
✗According to some reports, smart meters do not work too well with home-generated energy like solar power
✗Your smart meter will need to be replaced every ten years, which is more than average meters
There are probably just as many reasons not to have a smart meter as there are to have one, but it completely depends on your circumstances.
For instance, if you don’t have solar panels, it probably doesn’t matter that they don’t work well with smart meters.
Or you may not mind that they have to be replaced every ten years.
Now let’s look at the actual installation process.
The installation process
As your smart meter is installed by the energy company that provides you with power, this is who will be taking care of your installation and who you will tell you about facilities in your area.
The first step in installation is to work out with your supplier a convenient installation date.
- You need to be home
- Installation takes approximately two hours
- You will lose power during this time at certain times
- Make sure that you can reach your meter
You won’t need to pay for your smart meter installation, so don’t worry about any costs like that.
In the second step, when your installer arrives, they need to show you their identification before they enter your home, to let you know who they are.
This will include the name of your supplier, their name and a photograph so you can make confirmation of their identity.
It should take around one hour for your installer to install your gas meter, and another for your electricity meter – approximately two hours in total.
Your installer will then do a gas check.
They will then tell you about your smart meter, including how it works and how to use the display that connects to your smart meter and allows you to view your usage in real time.
Finally, once you install your smart meter, it will send information to your energy company.
Smart meter FAQ
Do I have to pay?
According to reports you won’t be paying directly, but it will be taken out of your energy bill in the short term.
It is estimated to cost each home £125.
Is it mandatory to have a smart meter?
No, but you will be offered one by your supplier.
Do smart meters save money?
Yes, by understanding your energy usage, you can start making changes to your energy usage which can save you money.
Do I need Wifi to have a smart meter?
No, smart meters use radio waves, like your mobile phone or the internet.
When will I get a smart meter?
Your supplier is obligated to offer you a smart meter up until 2020, but whether you accept the offer is entirely up to you.
Can I have a smart meter if I am a prepayment meter?
Yes, you can have a smart meter regardless of whether you are a prepayment meter or credit customer.
Will I be pressured into buying something else during installation?
No. Ofgem, the industry regulator, has imposed strict rules so engineers can’t try and upsell you when they come to install your meter.
Are you interested in opting for a smart meter?
Did you know that you could have one installed for free right now?