Smart meters are a new gas and electricity meters that have been developed as part of a government scheme in Britain
A smart meter can automatically send daily meter readings to your supplier, which means your bills will be more accurate for your energy usage .
You don’t have to pay upfront to have a smart meter installed – they are paid for through your energy bills.
A smart meter won’t automatically save you money – you’ll have to be proactive to reduce your energy costs. One of the most efficient ways to do this is to use the digital ‘in-home’ display that you’ll be offered with a smart meter that tracks how much energy you’re using. That way , you can then try to reduce it.
When you’ll get a smart meter
Most energy suppliers will start offering smart meters from Autumn 2016, although some are offering them earlier.
Your supplier should contact you to tell you exactly when you can get one. If they don’t, you can contact them to ask when it’ll be possible .
Want one earlier?
You can contact your supplier to see whether they’ll install one in your home now, but they don’t have to.
You might want to shop around and see if any other suppliers can offer you one. If they do, you’ll need to switch supplier.
Be careful about asking for one early because some suppliers are not ready to install smart meters that comply with government standards (known as ‘SMETS-compliant’), but are offering similar products. These are sometimes referred to as ‘advanced meters’. If you end up getting one of these you might not get the same tools or services a smart meter has, and you’ll probably have to upgrade to a smart meter in the long run .
Ask the supplier if the smart meter they’re offering is SMETS compliant – if it’s not, it might be best to wait or speak to other suppliers.
Refusing a smart meter
You don’t have to accept a smart meter if you don’t want one. If your supplier tells you that you must have one installed, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
If you refuse one, you might find it hard to access certain tariffs. This is because in future the cheaper tariffs offered by suppliers might only be available to customers with smart meters.
One option is to have a smart meter installed but ask for its ‘smart’ function to be switched off – this means it’ll work in the same way as an ordinary meter, but won’t send any information to your supplier. You can then easily turn the functionality back on at a later stage.
If you’re worried about your meter sending daily meter readings to your supplier, you can choose to opt-out and only send one reading a month (this is the minimum your supplier will need to be able to bill you).
Your supplier might want to collect more detailed information than daily meter readings. They must get your permission to be able to do this.
Once you have a smart meter, you’ll still be able to switch energy supplier as before.
However, some energy companies haven’t started installing smart meters yet. If you switch to one of these suppliers, you might lose your smart meter’s functionality. For example, you may have to start submitting meter readings again. This would stop once the supplier eventually introduced smart meters to their customers.
You should check with the supplier to make sure they currently offer smart meters before you switch.
Suppliers can’t refuse to supply you with energy because you have a smart meter.
If you’re told by a supplier that you can’t switch supplier because you have a smart meter, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
Smart Energy GB has more information about the benefits of smart meters and how they should be installed.
[Featured Image Credit: www.ovoenergy.com]