Understanding smart meters

Understanding smart meters

Smart gas and electricity meters are being offered to everyone in England, Scotland and Wales at no extra cost, between now and 2020. Claire Maugham, Director of Policy and Communications at Smart Energy GB, the national campaign for Great Britain’s smart meter rollout, explains the new technology.

In a nutshell, smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. All energy suppliers will offer their customers a smart meter by 2020 and they come at no extra cost, so you won’t need to pay anything extra for the upgrade.

Claire Maugham

Claire Maugham, Director of Policy and Communications at Smart Energy GB

Benefits for everyone

Smart meters will bring an end to estimated bills, so you won’t need to worry about the shock of an unexpected bill landing on the mat. They also communicate automatically with your supplier via secure, wireless technology. You won’t need to access your meters to submit manual readings, or let someone into your home to read the meter.

Smart meters will also give you greater transparency and control. Being able to see what you’re spending is a great reassurance, so you can keep your home warm during winter without worrying about running up an unexpectedly high bill. Our independent research shows that 73 per cent of those with a smart meter feel more in control of the energy they use.

If you have a prepayment meter you’ll be able to see how much credit you have left on your handheld display and top up at any time of the day or night, by phone or online, from the comfort of home. Any payments made in your local shop will be automatically added to your account, so you won’t need to worry about putting a key or card back into a meter, which might be difficult to access.

Smart meters are also a great tool to help you reduce wasted energy and save money, if you would like to do so. Understanding what you’re spending on energy will no longer be a case of guesswork. You’ll also be able to compare your energy use over time, identify where you could make positive changes, and reap the rewards in your bills. Our independent research shows that eight in ten people with a smart meter have taken at least one step to reduce their energy use at home.

Your questions

We know that the Mature Times has received lots of letters and emails about smart meters, so we’re pleased to answer some of the most popular queries. It’s natural to ask lots of questions about new technology, but there is absolutely no need to worry when it comes to upgrading to smart meters.

The smart meter installation

When it comes to the installation, you can arrange an appointment at a time that suits you and invite a friend or relative to be there, if you’d like to. All smart meter installers follow the same code of practice so they will show their company ID when they arrive, and they will show you how to use the new technology to get the greatest benefits. During the installation, they will explain how the smart meter works and provide advice on important safety issues, such as avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning.

Using the new technology

Smart meters do all the communicating for you, so all you need to do is check your energy use on your handheld display – as simple as checking the clock on the wall. Your smart meters will replace your traditional meters but the handheld display is portable, so you can put it wherever it’s most useful.

How smart meters work

Smart meters send your energy use directly to your energy supplier, and from 2016, this will happen via a secure, national communications network developed specifically for smart meters. Smart meter data will be sent over this secure, dedicated network – never over the internet.

Switching suppliers

During the early stages some people might find that switching to a different supplier means they have to temporarily revert to sending manual meter readings. However, if your new supplier can’t support your smart meter yet, you’ll still have lots of benefits from your display. All smart meters will later be enrolled into the national communications network without another visit from an engineer, helping to make switching quicker and easier in future.

Health and safety

Smart meters exceed every UK and EU safety standard, so the new technology is completely safe to have in your home. Smart meters do not store personal data of any kind – they only measure and store how much energy you use, and which tariff you have chosen. Suppliers can only access the basic data required to prepare a bill, unless you give active consent for them to use it for another purpose.

About Smart Energy GB

Smart Energy GB is the national campaign for Great Britain’s smart meter rollout. To find out how you can get a smart meter from your energy supplier please visit: