Information on Smart Meters

Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2022

FAQs-How do smart meters work?


What is a smart meter?


Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace the traditional meters, including prepay key meters, most of us currently have ticking away under the stairs, or outside our homes. Smart meters record your energy use in the same way as a traditional meter but then send the readings automatically to your energy supplier at least monthly, allowing them to prepare an accurate bill.


How do smart meters work?


Your smart meter measures how much gas and electricity you use and securely shares this directly with your energy supplier at least once a month and your portable in-home display in near real time. You won't have to take any meter readings manually - your smart meter will send automatic readings to your energy supplier via the secure smart data network which is solely for smart meters. This works in a similar way as other wireless systems but does not use the internet.


Do I need one smart meter for gas and another for electricity?


Yes, if you're a dual-fuel customer, both meters will need to be replaced. Your supplier will aim to install both meters on the same visit to make things as easy as possible. You will only need one in-home display to view both your gas and electricity usage. If your gas and electricity accounts are with different suppliers, you will have two separate smart meter installations - one from each of your suppliers.


Do I need a broadband connection in my home to have a smart meter?


No. 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. Your smart meter and in-home display communicate via a secure national network which is solely for smart meters. This works in the same way as other wireless systems like car remote keys or TVs, using radio waves.


Can I still get a smart meter if my home has poor mobile signal?


If you live in an area with poor mobile telephone reception you can either request a first generation meter that uses this network, but may experience difficulties sending readings to your supplier automatically. Alternatively, you can contact your energy supplier and insist that they install a second generation meter, known as SMETS2. A SMETS2 meter is not reliant upon the mobile phone network and by the end of the rollout this network will have coverage of 99.25% of Great Britain.


Can I get a smart meter if my home has solar panels?


Yes you can get a smart meter if you have solar panels. Your bills reflect the energy you are using and that you have generated yourself. Your in-home display will only show how much energy you are buying from your supplier. In the future, your in-home display may also be able to reflect the energy you're generating yourself, such as from solar panels.

I generate my own electricity. Will the in-home display show the electricity I generate?

Your bills reflect the energy you're using and that you've generated yourself. Your in-home display will show you how much energy you are buying from your supplier and in the future, may also be able to reflect the energy you're generating yourself, such as from solar panels.

FAQs - The in-home display


Why do smart meters come with an in-home display?


Smart meters come with an in-home display so that, for the first time, you are able to see how much energy you’re using in near real time. This information can help you understand your energy use and take steps towards reducing your energy consumption.


What information does the in-home display show?


The government has made sure that all in-home displays are required to show the same basic information. Below are some of the minimum requirements your in-home display will show depending on which mode you have your smart meter set to:

If you’re a credit customer, the in-home display will show you:

• the cost of current energy use in pounds and pence

• the amount of electricity being used in kWh

• the amount of gas being used in kWh

• historical energy consumption data (up to 13 months)

If you’re a prepay customer, the in-home display will show you:

• how much credit you have

• how much you have on your emergency balance

• the amount of debt owed to your supplier (if applicable)

• the cost of current energy use in pounds and pence

• the amount of electricity being used in kWh

• the amount of gas being used in kWh

• historical energy consumption data (up to 13 months)

Some models of in-home display will also show your carbon emissions.

Click below for more information on the minimum specifications for smart meters:

Smart Meters Equipment Technical Specifications (V2)

Why does my in-home display look different to the ones on your website?

In-home displays come in different makes and models and the one you get depends on your energy supplier. However, no matter how different each in-home display looks, they must all meet the same minimum specifications.

Click below for more information on the minimum specifications for smart meters:

Smart Meters Equipment Technical Specifications (V2)

My in-home display has been off for some time. Can I start using it again?

Yes. It can take a while for the meters to transfer your meter reading and tariff information back to the in-home display. We suggest waiting 24 hours before checking it. Your smart meter continues to work, even if your in-home display has turned off. Your display holds up to 13 months of data in its memory so you'll still be able to see how much energy you've used.


My in-home display is faulty. What can I do?


Contact your energy supplier. If you've had the in-home display for less than 12 months, and the display has broken or is no longer working as it should be, your supplier should replace it free of charge. If there is evidence that the damage has been caused by you your supplier may consider applying a charge.


I didn't want an in-home display when I got my smart meter but I've changed my mind. Can I still get one?


If you didn't want an in-home display, but have changed your mind, you're still entitled to receive one at no extra cost for up to 12 months after your smart meter installation date. Just contact your energy supplier and they will provide one. If you've had your smart meter for longer than 12 months, ask your supplier. You may be required to pay for it.

Do I leave my in-home display behind when I move house?

Yes. Your in-home display will only work with the smart meter it is securely paired with. If you're moving home, please leave your in-home display at your property so the new householder can benefit from using it.


I've just moved in and there's a smart meter, but no separate in-home display. What do I do?


You'll need to get in touch with your supplier as they are best placed to let you know more about the options available to you for getting a replacement in-home display. This wouldn’t involve replacing the meters, only the in-home display that would then be paired with the existing smart meter.


Is there an in-home display for blind or partially sighted people?


Yes, an accessible in-home display has been developed for those who are blind or partially sighted.

At the moment energy suppliers are gauging demand for accessible in-home displays and some now have stock available for eligible customers, however, they are not currently available from every supplier.

If you require an accessible in-home display, it is important to make your energy supplier aware of this.

FAQs - About the rollout


Where are smart meters manufactured?


Some of the components for smart meters will be manufactured abroad, but factories in the UK are likely to be doing the final assembly and technical configuration of the millions of meters that will be needed for the rollout.


Are smart meters compulsory?


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


Can I get a smart meter for free?


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.


What's the link between smart meters and clean air?


From the moment your smart meter is installed, you are helping to reduce our carbon emissions as a nation. Smart meters help to create a smart energy system. With a truly smart energy system we can better match supply with demand, and integrate more renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into the system. These forms of generating energy create less air pollution and emit significantly less CO2 into the atmosphere.


How much will the rollout cost Great Britain?


Smart meters are an essential upgrade to an outdated system. The savings of £19.5 billion will far outweigh the investment of £13.5 billion – meaning an overall net benefit of £6 billion between now and 2034.


Have other countries already got smart meters?


The United States, Canada, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and The Netherlands are among the countries already benefiting from smart meters and most other EU countries are currently rolling them out. In Great Britain, the rollout has been specifically designed with the consumer at its heart with millions of pounds of savings that are expected to be passed on through lower bills and energy efficiency, and will help Britain move towards a lower carbon economy.

FAQs - Switching supplier, tariffs and bills


Can I switch tariff or energy supplier if I have a smart meter?


Yes. People with a smart meter can switch energy supplier and tariff in exactly the same way that anyone with a traditional meter can. Find out more about switching supplier with a smart meter here.


Do smart meters work with prepay?


Yes. 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. Pay the same rates as everyone else - smart meters will remove the need for prepay to be more expensive than other tariffs. Switch between payment modes (credit and prepay) without physically changing your meter.


Can I get a smart meter if I am on an Economy 7 or an Economy 10 tariff?


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.


How accurate are smart meters?


Smart meters are as accurate as traditional meters. By law, all smart meters have to be approved by and certified by the Office of Product Safety & Standards to prove their accuracy. If you believe that there's a fault with your smart meter you can report it to your energy supplier in the same way you do now.


Will the in-home display cost me anything to run?


Your smart meter's in-home display will cost less than £1 a year in electricity.

Does a smart meter mean my energy can be cut off more easily?

No. You're protected by strict regulations against your energy supplier switching off or disconnecting your gas or electricity supply. This protection remains as strong with smart meters as it is with traditional meters.


Will I still be sent energy bills?


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. Depending on your energy supplier, you may also receive some energy efficiency advice.


Can my smart meter help me save money?


Yes. Smart meters can help us to identify situations where we're using a lot of energy and might want to make changes to this. If you use the information shown on your smart meter in-home display to reduce your energy use, you could reduce your energy costs. Smart meters also mean accurate bills as they bring an end to estimates, so you can be confident that you're only paying for what you've actually used.


I have a smart meter so why is my supplier asking for a reading?


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 a number of 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.

I have a smart meter so why have I received an estimated bill?

The first bill you receive after having your smart meter installed may still be estimated. If you are still receiving estimated bills after this, you should contact your energy supplier.


Can I be charged different prices at different times of day?


No, an energy supplier cannot charge you based upon when you use your energy unless you specifically choose such a tariff (known as time-of-use tariffs). Time-of-use tariffs could mean lower bills if you use energy outside peak times. They will also help energy suppliers to better manage periods of peak demand. Time-of-use tariffs are not compulsory and if they suit your lifestyle, could save you money. There are already some time-of-use tariff such as Economy 7 and Economy 10, or even free energy at certain times of day, but smart meters mean that time-of-use tariffs can be more flexible.


Could a time-of-use tariff really save me money?


If you have a smart meter, you can choose a smart time-of-use tariff, which offers a different price for energy at different times of the day.

These tariffs have been designed to help you save money on your bills, as you will be financially rewarded for using energy when demand is low or excess energy is available. For example, if you use your washing machine when there is a lot of renewable energy being produced (on windy or sunny days), your energy could be cheaper. Or, charge your phone at night when less energy is being used by others.

Time-of-use tariffs already exist and are popular with electric vehicle owners who can save money by charging their cars at off-peak times.


Why should I share my half-hourly meter readings with my energy supplier?


When you accept a smart meter, you’ll have a choice to send your meter readings to your supplier about your usage every 30 minutes. These half-hourly readings will help energy suppliers understand how much energy is being used around the country, and when. With this information, energy suppliers will be able to buy more accurate amounts of energy to supply their customers.

This will help us to reach net-zero by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels – great!

But that isn’t the only benefit, with suppliers only buying what they need to supply your home, consumers stand to save. And the more that consumers move some of their energy use to off-peak periods, the greater these savings will be. With the electricity system running more efficiently, Ofgem estimates that consumers could save between £1.6 billion and £4.5 billion by 2045.