Mo’s guide to smart meters
As of March 2020, 39% of all UK households had a smart meter installed. But what exactly is a smart meter and what’s the benefit of one?
16 million smart meters were operating in smart mode in UK households as of 31 March 2020. When you take into account the number of smart meters operating as a traditional meter is equates to a total of 39% of UK households with a smart meter installed.
But what are smart meters and can they save you money?
What is a smart meter?
Like a traditional meter, a smart meter measures your usage of gas and electric. However, unlike traditional meters, smart meters communicate directly with your energy supplier.
A smart meter also comes with an in-home display (IHD), meaning you can monitor your energy usage in real-time, as well as monitor your spend.
What are the benefits of smart meters?
provide real-time detail on energy consumption allowing you to better manage your usage and because of this they can help you to save money
bills no longer need to be estimated, meaning you’re only charged for what you use so you are better able to budget
no more home visits from your energy supplier to obtain a meter reading
in time smart meters should make the switching process easier as your usage information can be sent to your new supplier in an instant
Can a smart meter save you money?
The simple answer is yes. But there are different ways that a smart meter can help you save.
Firstly, because you can see your energy consumption in pounds and pence in real-time there’s a strong chance you might just change your behaviour. Smart Energy GB found in 2019, that 85% of smart meter households saved money due to changes they made to their behaviour and consumption.
Secondly, because your smart meter sends your usage information directly to your energy supplier your bills are no longer estimated. Meaning, you only pay for the gas and electric you use.
Lastly, some energy suppliers will provide you with an app that allows you to view your usage and provides tips on how you specifically could reduce your consumption.
Types of smart meters
SMETS 1: the majority of smart meters installed in the UK are first-generation meters, also known as SMETS 1 ('Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications'). These meters utilise the 3G network to communicate with your energy supplier. However, if you switch away from the supplier who installed the meter it’s unlikely that your new supplier will be able to receive the communication. Meaning your smart meter will act like a traditional meter losing the functionality that makes it smart.
SMETS 2: if your smart meter was installed in the last couple of years, or it’s due to be installed, you’ll likely have a second-generation SMETS 2 meter. These meters have their own communication systems via a central data network which all suppliers have access to. Meaning when you switch to a new energy supplier your smart meter will keep all the functionality that makes it smart. When the switch is complete, your in-home display should update automatically to show you your usage with the new supplier’s costs.
How do you get a smart meter?
All energy suppliers should now be installing smart meters either when first installing a meter in a home or when replacing a new one.
You supplier should contact you to advise you when you can a smart meter installed, however, you can contact them to see if you can get one sooner.
You can also refuse to have a smart meter installed, however, you may find that fewer tariffs are available to you if you don’t have one.
To see if smart meters are available in your area you can check via the links below:
- British Gas
- Scottish Power
- Shell Energy
- For smaller energy providers you can check Smart Energy GB’s smart meter page
If your energy supplier isn’t listed you can always contact them directly to enquire.
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