What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is the same as a traditional energy meter, in that its purpose is to measure how much electricity or gas you use. However, it works in a different way and offers several benefits over a traditional meter.
How do smart meters work? The main difference is that they automatically read how much energy you’re using and send it to your supplier. One less job for you to do. Smart meters do this wirelessly using a national communication network that’s secure.
What are the benefits of a smart meter?
- No more manual meter readings, unless you want to. It automatically reads your energy usage and sends the data to your supplier.
- Simple to see your energy use in near real time with a digital display, and with the option to show in pounds and pence or kilowatt hours (kWh).
- No more shining a torch into dark spaces. You can choose where to put the digital display and move it whenever you like.
- More accurate bills. With traditional meters, you could forget to submit a reading, which means your energy company will estimate how much you used. Smart meters take care of this for you.
- You could reduce your carbon footprint. If your smart meter helps you to use less energy, particularly gas, you’ll be lowering the emissions associated with your home.
How do I get a smart meter?
As part of a national rollout, energy suppliers are installing smart meters in new homes and when replacing traditional meters too. This includes prepayment meters. If you don't have a smart meter, and haven't heard from your energy supplier, you can request one. Your installer must follow a code of practice, including showing you how to use your new display screen. You can start your request on the Smart Energy GB website, or directly through your supplier.
Will a smart meter save you money?
You won’t save money simply by having a smart meter, although some energy tariffs could be cheaper if you have one.
You could use less energy, and therefore save money, if your smart meter helps you to change your energy use habits. The smart meter makes easier to see how energy is being used. For example, if someone is taking a long shower, you’ll see the energy use going up while the shower is running. Taking a shorter shower could save you money by using less energy. The same goes for other habits, such as leaving lights on or having your heating set to a high temperature. Why not see our zero cost, room-by-room energy saving tips to get started?
A smart meter could also help you to identify appliances that aren’t energy efficient. However, some appliances such as fridges can have a high upfront cost, so it might be better to replace them when they come to the end of their life and can’t be repaired. Look out for appliances that are A-rated for energy efficiency to help keep your energy use down.