Getting a smart meter installed
Smart meters are a new kind of gas and electricity meter being introduced across Britain as part of a government scheme.
A smart meter can automatically send daily meter readings to your supplier, meaning they can bill you accurately for the energy you’ve used.
You won’t have to pay upfront to have a smart meter installed - smart meters will be paid for through everyone’s energy bills.
A smart meter won’t automatically save you money - you’ll have to be proactive to reduce your energy costs. The best way to do this is to use the digital ‘in-home’ display that you’ll be offered with a smart meter to keep track of how much energy you’re using. You can then try to reduce it. Read more about saving money on your energy bills.
When you’ll get a smart meter
Most energy suppliers will begin 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 that might be.
If you want one early
You can contact your supplier to see whether they’ll install one in your home early, 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 if you ask for one early. 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 functionality or services a smart meter has, and you’ll probably have to upgrade to a smart meter later on.
Ask the supplier if the smart meter they’re offering is 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 all 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’ functionality to be switched off - this means it’ll work in the same way as your current meter, and 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 reads 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.
You can get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you have any issues with smart meters.
Smart Energy GB has more information about the benefits of smart meters and how they should be installed.