Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions about smart meters
The smart meter rollout is underway and there are many questions about what this means in practice. A list of frequently asked questions and answers are below and you can find out more information by visiting smartenergyGB.org/faqs
- How do I get my smart meter?
Contact your energy supplier to find out when you can get a smart meter.
We’re all entitled to a smart meter as part of the rollout. Some of us will have to wait longer than others to get our new meter, but you can ask your energy supplier directly to see if yours can be fitted now. How soon you can get your smart meter depends on your energy supplier, where you live, your current meter type and what kind of home you live in.
- Can I get a smart meter for free?
There is no extra cost for a smart meter or for the in-home display. You won’t have an extra charge on your bill because you choose to have a smart meter. The costs will be spread across everyone’s bills, just like the cost of running and maintaining today’s traditional meters.
- I rent my home. Can I still get a smart meter?
Yes. If you are the billpayer, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to get a smart meter (although you should inform them). If you are not the billpayer, then you can ask your landlord to arrange a smart meter installation for you.
- I have a prepay meter. Can I still get a smart meter?
Yes. Smart meters will make prepay as easy as pay-as-you-go on your mobile or tablet, and you can continue to top up your meter at a shop as well as being able to top up online, by phone and by text or via an app. Smart meters will be able to switch between payment modes (credit and prepay) and there will be no need for a physical meter change.
- Do I need the internet for the meter to work?
No. Information is sent via a secure smart data network set up for smart meters. This works in a similar way to other wireless systems. Though it is a wireless system, you don’t need internet in your home for it to work, and it won’t use your internet if you do have it.
- How does the in-home display work?
During your smart meter installation, the installer will show you exactly how your in-home display works and show you how to use it. Your smart meter communicates with your in-home display to show you information about your energy usage in near real time. Position it somewhere useful, such as your kitchen or living room, so you can see exactly how much you’re using and what it’s costing at a glance. If you have any problems understanding your in-home display, please contact your energy supplier directly for more information.
- Can I switch supplier with a smart meter?
Yes. You can switch supplier at any time whether you have a smart meter or not. You should consider switching as a means to save money on your energy bills.
Some smart functionality may be lost during a switch to a new supplier – however the meter will still be working. There may also be temporary loss of some of the enhanced functions available. First generation smart meters will regain their full smart services in future, when they are brought into the new smart data network for smart meters. This smart process is called ‘Enrolment and Adoption’. People with a second generation meter can switch between energy suppliers.
You should ask your new energy supplier whether your smart meter will retain full smart functionality, if you switch. Examples of temporary changes after a switch include:
- a return to needing to provide manual meter readings, rather than your readings automatically being sent to your supplier
- your old tariff being displayed. However, your in-home display will still show your energy usage and you can still use this to work out if appliances are using a lot of energy
Once your meter is brought into the smart data network, full functionality should be restored.
- What is Enrolment and Adoption?
This is the process of bringing first generation meters into the new smart data network and will mean that all customers will be able to switch seamlessly between energy suppliers. Second generation smart meters are already using this network. SMETS (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specification) is the set of minimum technical specifications that all smart meters must comply with, as part of this rollout.
Enrolment and adoption is due to start in 2019.
- How is my personal data kept safe when I have a smart meter?
Your meter only transmits information about your meter readings to your supplier. It does not store any personal information such as your name, address or bank details. The meter readings that are stored on the meter are transmitted securely using a dedicated and secure wireless network (not your home broadband or internet).
Depending on how often you’ve agreed to share it with your supplier, your smart meter will send half hourly, daily or monthly meter readings (your usage data). You can change your preference for how often you share this information at any point by getting in contact with your supplier directly. If you have given them permission to do so, your energy supplier may also use this information to offer you tailored energy efficiency advice and improve the service they provide for you.
- Is a smart meter the same as an energy monitor?
No. You can buy a whole range of energy monitors that show you how much electricity you’re using, but most can’t measure gas or send data about your energy use to your energy supplier. Only a smart meter can:
- get you accurate bills from your energy supplier – no more estimates
- show you what you’re spending in pounds and pence
- make manual meter readings a thing of the past