When you’re paying for energy based on how much power you use, it’s essential to be able to track your usage accurately. Energy suppliers need this information in order to know how much to charge you and you need to be able to access this information to confirm that your bills are correct.
However, this isn’t the only benefit of having a Smart meter. Many meters can also be connected to in-home displays, which make it easy to see how much energy you’re using and find ways to reduce the amount of fuel you use. If you want to live more sustainably or increase the energy-efficiency of your home, a Smart meter can help you to achieve your goals.
Although Smart meters have been around for some time, they are still a relatively new form of technology. Due to this, many people are still unaware of how they work or what they really do. If you’re eager to find out more about Smart meters and whether they’re right for you, read on to find out everything you need to know…
How Do Smart Meters Work?
There are many different Smart manufacturers and a variety of models to choose from, so every meter can be a little different. However, they’re all based on the same technology and all designed to accurately record your energy usage.
Smart meters record the amount of energy you use and send this data to your energy supplier. Your energy company then calculates your gas and/or electricity bills based on the amount of power you’ve used, in accordance with your pre-agreed tariffs and rates.
This means that a representative from your energy company will no longer need to visit your home to read the meter. Similarly, you won’t be asked to read the meter and give the information to your energy company.
Instead, Smart meters automatically send this information to your energy supplier using a national network, known as the DCC. Smart meters are capable of sending this information to the network wirelessly, so you don’t need to do anything to ensure your energy company has the data they need.
Why Do You Need an In-Home Smart Meter Display?
Gas and electricity meters are often installed in hard-to-reach places within the home. You may have a meter under the stairs or at the back of a cupboard, for example. If so, you’re unlikely to go to the trouble of checking the meter regularly to monitor your energy consumption.
With an in-home Smart meter display, you can access this information easily and efficiently. What’s more – the information available on an in-home display is often more detailed and easier to understand. If you want to see what impact boiling the kettle or charging your phone has on your energy usage, for example, it’s easy to track it using an in-home display.
Although you don’t have to have an in-home display in order to have a Smart meter, many homeowners do choose to have one because of the extra functionality they offer.
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Do All Energy Suppliers Use the Same Smart Meters?
No. There are many different models available, which means energy suppliers tend to use different Smart meters. In general, however, they will either use a first generation Smart meter (SMETS1) or a second generation Smart meter (SMETS2). SMETS1 meters can fail to work as a Smart meter if you decide to switch energy suppliers (although they will still monitor your energy usage). However, SMETS2 meters are designed to enable homeowners to switch from one supplier to another without any issues.
Read on to find out more about the meters being used by some of the major energy suppliers in the UK:
British Gas Smart Meter
A British Gas Smart meter can be used on either a prepaid tariff or a pay monthly tariff, so they’re widely available to all customers. As well as getting a Smart meter to monitor usage, you’ll also benefit from a Smart energy monitor, which acts as your in-home display. Customers who want to use a British Gas Smart meter will be visited by one of their technicians, who will complete the install at no cost to you.
EDF Smart Meter
You can use an EDF Smart meter if you’re a credit or pay-as-you-go customer and you’ll also get an in-home display to help you monitor your usage and reduce your energy consumption, if you choose to do so. EDF also use their Energy Hub to give you easy-to-access data about your energy usage, based on the information collected by your Smart meter.
EON Smart Meter
Customers can access a free EON Smart meter and installation, regardless of what tariff they’re on. If you’re a pay monthly customer, you’ll have a Smart meter and in-home display installed. If you’re with EON and you pay for your energy in advance, you can use their Smart Pay as You Go service. This incorporates the benefits of a Smart meter but allows you to use your phone or tablet to track your usage and top up your account.
Octopus Energy Smart Meter
Octopus Energy has made great progress with the Smart meter rollout and a significant number of customers are already using the technology. However, if you want to use an Octopus Energy Smart meter, you’ll need to be a pay monthly customer as they don’t yet offer Smart meters on pay-as-you-go tariffs.
Scottish Power Smart Meter
Both pay monthly and pay-as-you-go customers can use a Scottish Power Smart meter, if they choose to. As well as benefiting from free installation, pay monthly customers will also receive an in-home display, while their Smart PAYG services make it easy to track your usage via their app.
SSE Smart Meter
If you’re an SSE customer or you want to switch to SSE, you’ll be able to use an SSE Smart meter if you pay in advance for power (pay as you go) or if you pay monthly. They will arrange for a technician to visit your home so that the installation can be carried out and will also provide you with in-home display if you would like one.
Can Anyone Get a Smart Meter?
Not yet. Although Smart meters are a great way to ensure accurate billing and to become more energy-efficient, they’re still a relatively new form of technology. Due to this, energy companies are in the process of making them available to all customers. As a result, your eligibility to use a Smart meter will depend on your location and the energy company you choose to work with.
However, energy companies must offer all of their customers the option to use a Smart meter by June 2025. If you can’t access Smart meter facilities just yet, it shouldn’t be long until energy companies are making them available in your area.
What Are the Benefits of Smart Meters?
Upgrading to a Smart meter offers lots of benefits, including:
1. Accurate Billing
As the data is sent directly to your energy supplier, there’s no discrepancies when it comes to your bills. Additionally, you won’t need to rely on estimated bills throughout the year, only to find that you’ve used more than anticipated and need to pay extra.
2. Creating a Smart Grid
As the national energy infrastructure continues to evolve, the government is working towards creating a Smart Grid that provides low-carbon energy to homes all over the country. Smart meters are part of this initiative and can, therefore, help to protect the environment.
3. Cheaper Rates
Some energy companies are offering special rates and discounts for Smart meter customers. This means you could save a significant amount of your bills by upgrading to a Smart meter, even if your usage doesn’t change.
4. Increased Energy Efficiency
Having a Smart meter won’t mean that you’ll automatically use less energy, but it can help you to reduce your energy consumption. When you can monitor your usage easily via an in-home display, it’ssimple reduce your energy use.
By doing so, you can lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
5. No Meter Readings
When you have a Smart meter installed, usage data is automatically sent to your energy supplier, which means no-one will have to visit your home to take a meter reading and you won’t be expected to read the meter and upload the details yourself.
How Long Does It Take to Install a Smart Meter?
Your energy supplier will arrange for an engineer to visit your home to install your Smart meter on a date that’s convenient for you. Although installation times can vary, most installations are completed within two hours. As well as installing your Smart meter, the technician will also set up your in-home display and show you how it works, if you’d like them to.
With more people embracing Smart homes and technology, a Smart meter can be a great way to bring your energy setup up to date, increase energy efficiency and reduce your gas and electricity bills.