- The smart meter rollout has already started.
In the initial phase, first generation meters are being installed, but from July 2018, the rollout of second-generation meters will begin.
- Smart meters are optional
While energy suppliers are obliged to offer smart meters to everyone by 2020 you don’t have to accept one if you don’t want one. In the future, smart meters will be the only option available to replace old meters.
However, you’ll still be able to request that your supplier not make use of the smart meter functionality, meaning that it will act like a standard meter.
- You should be offered an ‘In-Home Display’
Energy suppliers are required to offer an In-Home Display (IHD) with your smart meter. The display will show you how much energy you’re using and an approximate cost of that energy. It can also show your past usage and many include a ‘traffic light’ system to tell you when your usage is particularly high or low. Different suppliers will offer different IHDs so you may want to ask what features yours will come with.
- You can decide how often energy usage information is shared
You can choose how often energy usage information is sent via your smart meter to your energy supplier. By default, your supplier will be allowed to collect one meter reading per day and they need to tell you if they want to do this. Energy suppliers will have to ask for your consent to collect anything more detailed. You will also be able to choose to share as little as one meter reading a month and change your mind about how much you share at any time.
Your energy supplier isn’t allowed to use your smart meter data for marketing purposes unless you give them permission. The detailed data shown on your In-Home Display will remain in your home and your supplier won’t be able to see it unless you give them permission.
- You won’t be charged for the installation of your smart meter
The costs of smart meters are going to be paid through everyone’s energy bills, just as current meters are, so there should be no charges when it’s installed. This also means that the cost of smart meters will be shared amongst everyone whether or not you agree to have a smart meter.
- You may initially lose some ‘smart services’ if you switch supplier
Getting a smart meter in the early part of the rollout won’t stop you from being able to switch supplier but you may lose some ‘smart services’ (for example remote meter reads) for a period of time. Second-generation meters (SMETS 2) will resolve this problem so you should check with your supplier to confirm what impact switching may have on your particular meter. Eventually all compliant smart meters will be able to switch without any loss of functionality but ones installed earlier may take longer.
- Smart meters can be credit or prepay
Smart meters will be able to work both in ‘credit’ and ‘prepayment’ modes. Because of this, prepayment tariffs should become cheaper in the future. Smart meters will also allow for new ways to top-up your meter by phone, online or through an app in addition to current methods.
- There is a difference between a ‘smart’ and ‘advanced’ meter
Some suppliers have installed ‘advanced’ meters which, while providing some smart functionality (like remote meter readings) do not meet government specifications for smart meters. These meters were often described as ‘smart’ when they were installed but are likely to need to be replaced before 2020. If you want to know if this might happen start by asking your energy supplier what type of meter you have.
- It’s up to you!
It is up to you whether you choose to have a smart meter now and access the various benefits they offer immediately or wait until later when newer smart meter models are available that may eliminate the switching issues.
For more information, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service.
Telephone: 03454 04 05 06
Textphone: 18001 03454 04 05 06
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm