Should you get a smart meter?
What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is a new gas and electricity meter with an in-home display to show how much energy you use. It replaces your current gas and electricity meter. A smart meter sends your energy information to your supplier so you don’t have to send any meter readings.
Changes to smart meters
At the moment, smart meters send your energy supplier meter readings once a month. The changes proposed by Ofgem mean that the smart meter could send readings once every 30 minutes.
These changes could mean that smart meters detect people’s energy usage more accurately. As a result, energy suppliers could suggest more accurate energy tariffs.
Advantages of getting a smart meter
- No need to submit meter readings – Smart meters automatically send out readings to your supplier so you don’t have to worry about remembering to submit them monthly.
- You can closely track your usage and spend – The in-home display can show you exactly how much energy you’re using as well as the associated cost. It monitors and encourages good energy habits and some homes are already showing energy savings of 5-20%. Great for budgeting!
- Accurate bills – The smart meter sends your readings automatically so you will always be billed for what you use. If you have a standard (non-smart) meter and forget to submit a reading, your supplier will have to estimate how much energy you’ve used over the billing period which could lead you to paying more.
- Free at the point of installation – You won’t have to pay anything directly to have a smart meter installed.
- Benefit from Demand Reduction schemes – Customers can join Demand Reduction Schemes to be paid when they reduce load at peak times. The data from smart meters makes this possible.
Disadvantages of getting a smart meter
- Change behaviour for savings – Smart meters don’t automatically deliver savings. Customers have to actively engage with what their in-home display is showing and change their behaviour based on its information, or they won’t see their bills fall.
- Cost spread across all our energy bills – The smart meter rollout is estimated to cost nearly £14 billion, an expenditure that will be spread across all our energy bills over the next few years. The way the costs are being spread means that the maximum cost on a customer’s bill is an additional £11 a year.
- Poor signal inside or outside the house – If the signal is poor the meters cannot communicate with the supplier. Also, the in-home display may only work intermittently which can be very frustrating.
- Some suppliers don’t support smart meters – Unfortunately, not all suppliers offer or support smart meters.