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What Are Smart Meters, and Should I Have One?

Smart meters are becoming a very popular way to manage your energy use.

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What Are Smart Meters, and Should I Have One?

Who Already Has Smart Meters?

An estimated seven million smart meters have already been installed in premises throughout England, Scotland and Wales. The installation of the smart meters is part of the biggest infrastructure programme to take place in homes for over 40 years. It is part of the government’s overarching aim to update and upgrade Britain's energy system, to help the nation embrace a lower carbon economy, and create a sustainable and secure energy supply.

With a smart meter, you can wave goodbye to estimated bills and having to work out your usage on your own and say hello to an accurate, near real-time reading of your energy consumption.

But What Are Smart Meters and How Do They Work?

To receive an accurate bill without a smart meter, you need to give your energy supplier(s) regular meter readings from both of your meters so that they know how much energy you’re using. With a smart meter, this is all done for you over the internet, and pretty much in real time.

The smart metering system consists of one gas smart meter, one electricity smart meter, a communications hub and a smart energy monitor where you view the reading on the in-home digital display screen.

With the use of the in-home display unit you are able to see an accurate reading of how much energy you are using and the cost of it in pounds and pence. The information displayed is in near real time and your accurate energy usage is sent directly to your supplier wirelessly. This is achieved by using a secure national communication network. Similarly to mobile phones, smart meters send information through radio waves inside the premises. It is then linked to a wireless network outside the premises, run by the Data Communications Company (DCC).

What Do I Gain by Installing a Smart Meter?

We are living in a world where the term “bigger is better” is applied to most things, however not when it comes to bills. By getting a smart meter you get more insight on your usage which in turn means no more estimated bills.

You gain an understanding on how your way of living and habits have a direct effect on your energy consumption and, more importantly, your pocket. So you can see how much falling asleep with Netflix on is actually costing you.

You are in control of your energy costs since you receive an accurate and detailed meter reading and with the help of your smart energy monitor you'll be able to notice the impact of reducing energy, which again will benefit you since you will be saving money.

This in turn will also help the environment. By using less energy you will save money and the polar bears at the same time! Energy suppliers will also have a more advanced comprehension of usage patterns and therefore will be able offer more tailored energy deals to consumers.

How Much Will This Cost Me?

Everyone will be given the opportunity to upgrade and have their current standard meters replaced and fitted with the new smart meters, in addition to the in-home display screen, by their energy suppliers at no extra cost.

What If I Have a Pre Pay Meter?

Don’t worry if you use a pre pay meter, as the upgraded smart meters will ensure that pre pay is as easy as topping up on a pay-as-you-go mobile. Smart meters offer you the ability to switch energy between prepay and credit modes conveniently.

The in-home display screen will show you much credit you have left without needing to access or manually read the meter. Just like with most pay as-you-go mobile phones you have many ways of topping up (online, with the app, via text message or over the phone). You are also able to top up in person just as you would with your standard meter, however without the need to put a card or key back into your meter. Your account will be automatically updated. Smart meters will also eliminate the need for pre pay users to be charged more than other customers on different energy deals.

**£350 is the average saving achieved by 10% of all customers who switched their dual fuel supply in 2019 via our partner energy journey

Last reviewed: 25 October 2022

Next review: 25 November 2022