What Is a Smart Meter and Do You Need One?

Although most people have heard of Smart meters, many people are unsure exactly what they do, how they work. and whether they need one. If you want to upgrade your energy setup or you simple want to know more about the technology behind them, read on to uncover the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Smart meters:

What Is a Smart Meter?

A Smart meter is a way of measuring how much gas and/or electricity you use. Traditional gas and electricity meters record your energy usage and display how much gas or electricity you’ve used. The figures on traditional meters can then be reported to your energy company or a technician from the energy company will visit your home to collect them. The energy supplier then uses this data to calculate your bill.

With a Smart meter, however, the data is collected and sent to the energy supplier automatically. This means no-one needs to read the meter in order for your energy company to determine how much gas or electricity you’ve used.

How Do Smart Meters Work?

Smart meters use new technology to send data automatically and wirelessly. As the data is collected, it’s sent to a national framework, known as the DCC. From here, energy suppliers can access the information to update your account and calculate an accurate bill.

What Is a Smart In-Home Display?

Most energy companies also offer customers an in-home display when they have a Smart meter installed. This works alongside your Smart meter and allows you to monitor your energy usage easily and efficiently.

An in-home display can be situated anywhere in your property. In fact, many in-home displays are portable and can be moved anywhere around your home. The Smart meter automatically sends information to the in-home display, so that you can track your energy consumption at any time.

As people are becoming increasing aware of environmental issues, like climate change, they are changing their habits to reduce the negative impact they have on the environment. For many, this means being more energy efficient and reducing their carbon footprints. A Smart meter and in-home display make it easier to see how much energy you’re using, which means you can reduce your energy consumption more effectively.

Of course, your in-home display also shows you important information about your tariff, usage and bills. This means you can keep track of how much you’re spending on gas or electricity and adjust your usage accordingly.

What Does a Smart Meter Look Like?

There are many different models of Smart meters, so they can look a little different from one another. In most cases, however, Smart meters are relatively small units that feature an electronic display and, sometimes, a keypad.

Although Smart meters are sometimes a little bigger than traditional gas or electricity meters, you may not notice much difference between how they look. If your current meters has a display, rather than a series of dials, your new Smart meter won’t look much different.

The in-home display that comes with your Smart meter usually looks like a phone or small tablet computer. They’re typically touchscreen and feature a full colour monitor. Most models are either black or white in colour, although the exact style varies depending on the manufacturer.

Dial meter readings

How To Read a Smart Meter

If you want to take a reading on your Smart meter, it’s easy to do so. The operating manual will tell you exactly how to take a reading from your meter, as each model has slightly different instructions. In general, however, you’ll need to press one or two buttons on your meter for the relevant figure to be displayed. This will tell you what your current energy usage is.

If you have an in-home display, it can be far easier to monitor your energy consumption using this, rather than taking a reading from your Smart meter. This is because your in-home display should be easier to access and because it displays information in a more user-friendly way. Some in-home displays show your energy usage in graphs and diagrams, as well as figures, for example.

Remember – You don’t have to take readings when you have a Smart meter, as the information will automatically be sent to your energy company. However, if you would like to take a reading from your Smart meter, you are able to do so.

How To Read a Smart Electric Meter

If you want to take a reading from your Smart electricity meter, you should follow the instructions in the owner’s manual. However, most Smart meters work similarly, which means you should be able to take a reading in one of the following ways:

If your Smart electricity meter has two or three buttons, instead of a keypad, press the ‘Display’, ‘A’ or ‘Select’ button. You’ll see ‘TOTAL ACT IMPORT’ appear on the display, followed by a series of numbers and the letters kWh. This is your latest electricity reading.

If your Smart electricity meter has a keypad, you can take a reading by pressing the number ‘9’ Following this, the display on your Smart meter will show the letters IMP KHW and a long number. This shows your latest reading.

However, if you’re on an economy 7 or economy 10 tariff, you’ll be charged two different rates for electricity, depending on when you use it. This means you’ll need to two electricity readings. To do this, press ‘6’ on the keypad until you see the letters ‘IMP RO1’ and a series of numbers on the display. This is your first reading and usually relates to your off-peak electricity usage. Press ‘6’ again and keep

pressing it until the display shows ‘IMP RO2’ followed by a long number. This is your second reading and usually relates to your on-peak usage.

How To Read a Gas Smart Meter

If you want to take a reading from a Gas Smart meter, you can do so in a similar way.

If there are buttons on your Smart meter, press ‘A’, ‘Display’ or ‘Select’. On some models, you may need to press the button more than once to get to the number you need. To see your latest gas reading, look for a number followed by ‘M3’.

If you have a Gas Smart Meter with a keypad, you can usually press ‘9’ on the keypad to see your latest reading. When you press ‘9’, a long number followed by ‘M3’ will appear on the display. This number is your most up to date gas reading.

Do I Have to Have a Smart Meter?

No. If you would prefer to continue using a traditional gas or electricity meter, you can do so. However, there are many advantages to having a Smart meter so it’s well worth considering upgrading to a newer form of technology.

Can Any Type of Property Use a Smart Meter?

Although all homeowners should be able to have a Smart meter installed, they aren’t available across the whole country from every supplier just yet. However, all energy companies will need to offer their customers the option to use a Smart meter by June 2025. This means that any type of property should be able to have a Smart meter installed by this time.

If you would like to upgrade to a Smart meter, you can contact your energy company to see if they can install one for you. If they’re unable to do so, another energy supplier may be able to provide you with one, if you switch to one of their tariffs.

Can You Switch Energy Suppliers If You Have a Smart Meter?

Yes. Older style Smart meters, known as SMETS1, may temporarily lose their Smart functionality when you switch to a new supplier. However, newer Smart meters, known as SMETS2, are able to retain their functionality when you switch to a different energy supplier.

What Tariffs Are Available for Smart Meters?

If your energy company is able to supply you with a Smart meter, you should be able to use it in conjunction with any of their tariffs. However, some Smart meters are not able to work alongside economy 10 tariffs just yet, due to the variation in peak and off peak timings.

Some energy suppliers even offer special tariffs and discounts for customers with a Smart meter, so you may find that there are more options available to you, if you decide to upgrade your meter.

How Much Is a Smart Meter?

If you want to have a Smart meter installed, your energy company should provide one free of charge. Similarly, you won’t need to pay for the installation either. What’s more – most energy suppliers provide an in-home display at no cost as well, so upgrading your meter won’t add anything to your bill.

Switching to a Smart meter can be a great option for many households. If you want to move away from estimated billing and meter reading, be more energy-efficient and track your energy usage with greater accuracy, a Smart meter delivers the functionality you’re looking for.