Getting a smart meter installed
Smart meters are a new kind of gas and electricity meter gradually 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
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 your local Citizens Advice bureau or the Citizens Advice consumer service.
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. Suppliers can't refuse to supply you with energy because you have a smart meter.
You might not be able to use your smart meter's functionality with your new supplier. Check if they'll take automatic meter readings or if you'll need to submit them.
If you decide to get a smart meter
Your supplier is responsible for installing your smart meter and making sure it works properly - they should:
- explain the process beforehand
- show you how to use your smart meter
- give you a copy of the instructions
They should also give you a number to call if anything goes wrong, or if you think your meter isn’t working properly. For example if you can’t see usage details on your in-home display.
If your supplier can’t finish the installation
They should tell you what the problem is and rearrange the installation. They also need to make sure your meter is safe before they leave.
You can get advice from your local Citizens Advice bureau or the Citizens Advice consumer service if you have any issues with smart meters.
Citizens Advice consumer service (Scotland)
Tel: 03454 04 05 06 (Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm)
The Citizens Advice consumer service will provide energy and postal service advice to Scottish consumers. You can find out more about the service, including how to get in touch online, on Contact the consumer helpline.
Smart Energy GB has more information about the benefits of smart meters and how they should be installed.