Are smart meters a good idea?

Woman demands smart meter removed after bills 'almost doubled'

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Smart Meters Explained

How do Smart Meters work?

Smart Meters are seen as the next generation of energy meters because they are cleverer than today's standard gas and electricity meters – it’s like the difference between an ordinary phone and a smart phone.

What is a Smart Meter? A Smart Meter does everything your normal energy meter does, but it also sends automatic gas and electricity readings to your supplier and displays your energy consumption. It allows energy companies to collect data on your usage so they can calculate accurate energy bills.

The current £11bn Smart Meter roll out aims to update decades-old infrastructure while giving consumers an easy way to see how their energy bills are made up. The government hopes to see 26 million homes with new meters by 31 December 2020.

Over seven million meters have already been installed, according to data from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. At around 15% complete, this is behind schedule, although energy companies have been increasing the pace recently.

How do Smart Meters work? Smart Meters track patterns in your energy consumption use and share this information with you via an in-home display, app or similar device. They also send regular readings to your energy supplier wirelessly, using technology similar to mobile phones.

Customers benefit from this data sharing: you’ll no longer receive estimated bills, send manual meter readings or be visited by a meter reader.

Smart Meters usually come with an in-home display that shows:

Your energy consumption: how much gas and electricity you have used in kilowatt hours in the last hour, week, and month. How much you've spent: the amount you've spent in pounds is visible and updated every half an hour, every day. Your energy goals: some Smart Meters come with budgeting functionality, which lets you set goals for reducing your energy consumption. Each supplier's Smart Meter will be slightly different, but we believe most will show this kind of information.

If you think you’re paying too much for energy, use our energy comparison tool to find out whether switching suppliers or tariffs could save you money. Customers who already have Smart Meters can download and share their data with third parties (such as comparison sites like MoneySuperMarket) to help find the best deals.

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Benefits of having a smart meter

Smart meters show you what you're spending in pounds and pence; no more estimated bills or supplying meter readings. Smart meters allow you to take control of your energy use.

Everyone in Britain will be offered a smart meter by their energy supplier as part of a national upgrade to our energy system. This means the end of estimated bills. No more having to read the meter or trying to work out your bill. No more strangers coming into your home for meter readings.

Once you have a smart meter, you’ll only get accurate bills from your energy supplier, just like your phone bill.

With your smart meter, you'll also get an easy-to-understand portable display that shows you exactly what you’re spending in pounds and pence and in near real time. This means you can work out which appliances are guzzling the most energy. Or show the kids the difference it can make when they remember to turn the lights off.

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