Smart Meters


Smart Meter Information For Households

The national smart meter roll-out is an essential technology upgrade to improve Great Britain's energy infrastructure.

What is a smart meter and how will it benefit you?

Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters which are installed by energy suppliers; they make it even easier to keep control of a household's energy.

Replacing traditional meters with smart meters means:

  • Households can see exactly how much energy they use, in pounds and pence.
  • They get accurate bills instead of estimates.
  • They can say goodbye to manual meter reading.

Smart prepay customers will also be able to access a wider variety of payment methods, and more competitive tariffs.

How does a smart meter work?

Smart meters are made up of:

  1. The smart meters themselves, which replace traditional gas and electricity meters.
  2. An in-home display that clearly shows how much energy is being used and how much it's costing.

A communications hub (attached to the electricity meter) provides the network linking the smart meters and in-home display together, and with your supplier.

Both parts communicate with each other and automatically share how much energy a household is using with their energy supplier, meaning no one will have to visit their home to read meters and no more estimated bills.

The smart meter takes readings wirelessly through a safe and secure network set up solely for smart meters. Smart meters only hold information about that household's energy usage. Personal details such as people's name, address and bank details are never stored on the meter.

People don't need to have broadband / personal internet in their home for a smart meter to work (and it won't use the internet if they do have it). It will operate in much the same way as other wireless systems such as car keys and TVs across a secure independent wireless network.

The in-home display

The in-home display is a handheld device that can sit anywhere in a home and shows exactly how much gas and electricity is being used, in pounds and pence. They are designed to be simple and easy to use.

There are various settings, which allow people to view their energy usage by the hour, per week or per month.

All in-home displays will provide the same information by law although they won't all look the same as each energy supplier provides their own make.

An enhanced accessible in home display is being created by RNIB and Energy UK so people who are blind, partially sighted, have difficulties with dexterity or memory loss are advised to contact their energy supplier to find out when they can get this more accessible in-home display.

Preparing for installation

Smart meters can only be installed by an energy supplier, or by a contractor on behalf of the energy supplier. They are provided at no extra cost, so people won't have to pay the installer any money.

Things to prepare before installation:

  1. The householder needs to know where their gas and electricity meters are located and check that they're accessible. If it might be difficult to access or locate, they should let the energy supplier know well in advance.
  2. An agreed time and date for the smart meter installation will be confirmed by the supplier. Installers will never turn up on your doorstep unexpectedly.
  3. Someone from the household will need to be present during the installation, which will take around two hours, during which time the energy supply will be cut off for a short period.

During installation, the installer will:

  • Present valid photo identity when they arrive, including the company name and phone number, as well as their name and photograph.
  • Replace traditional meters with smart meters.
  • Offer the householder an in-home display, install it and check it works.
  • Install the communications hub and connect this with the smart meter and the data communications network.
  • Demonstrate how to use the in-home display and answer any questions.
  • Offer energy efficiency advice, with written support materials to back up this advice in standard or accessible formats.
  • If a gas meter is being fitted, the installer will also perform a visual safety check on any gas appliances as part of the installation.

Next Steps

If the energy supplier hasn't already been in touch about installing a smart meter, householders can contact their energy supplier to make arrangements. The supplier's contact details will be on their gas or electricity bill.

For more information on the smart meter roll-out and answers to frequently asked questions please visit www.smartenergygb.org or if you would like to access materials to help with any smart meter related activity in your locality visit www.smartenergygb.org/materials where you can download and print free resources which can help you engage with people locally.

National Energy Action (NEA), the national fuel poverty and energy efficiency charity is working alongside Energy Action Scotland and Charities Aid Foundation in partnership with Smart Energy GB to deliver their Smart Energy GB in Communities programme, a partnership programme, which forms a part of their consumer engagement campaign.

The programme supports local and regional organisations with understanding the smart meter roll-out and how they can support individuals with overcoming any barriers they may have to engaging with the roll-out or realising the potential benefits. If you would like more information about this programme or how you might be able to get involved visit www.nea.org.uk/smartenergygb.

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