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How smart is your smart meter? Posted On 30 October 2019

Over 14 million smart meters have been installed in the UK so far, but there are still tens of millions to do before the full roll out has been completed.

Back in 2009, the British government announced a plan to update Britain’s energy metering system and install smart meters throughout the UK by 2020. This has now been extended to 2024 due to issues with installed smart meters; however, there are plans in place to complete the roll out on schedule.

The benefits of smart readers

Smart readers are the simplest way to keep track of your gas and electricity usage. They show you how much energy you are using in real-time, how much energy hourly, weekly and monthly you’re using and whether your electric use is high, medium or low.

With a smart meter in your home, there will be no more estimated bills. Your smart meter sends your usage directly to your supplier so you will only ever pay for the energy you’ve used. There will be no more uploading figures from a confusing readout from a dark cupboard!

Smart meters are free from your supplier; however, you will need to check if they are currently being rolled out in your area. You can wait your turn, which could be months or years. Alternatively, you can contact your supplier to try and jump the queue.

What smart meters are available?

All smart meters are the same version of the machine but in different guises, depending on your supplier. They have the catchy name SMETS 1 which stands for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications. These SMETS 1 communicate with your supplier over the 3G network, so there is no need to hook them up to your broadband.

If, however, you change suppliers your smart meter may go ‘dumb,’ which means that it won’t send readings to your new supplier automatically and you will need one to start taking manual readings again. An estimated one million households already have a ‘dumb’ smart meter.

With people being encouraged to change suppliers, often this has turned into a major issue and may make it more worthwhile to wait and check availability for the SMETS 2 meter which can communicate between different suppliers.

The Data Communications Company (DCC) is the organisation in charge with establishing a future-proof network for smart meters and are looking into upgrading the original SMETS 1 meters as opposed to replacing the 11 million already installed.

Do you have to have a smart meter?

More than 60% of people who have had a smart meter installed say they did not receive a clear explanation of the benefits of a smart meter and 30% felt they had been pressured to accept one by their supplier.

There is no law saying that if you get offered a smart meter you must accept it; however, your supplier will offer you one because they are required to by law before 2024.

As suppliers have targets set from the government in regards to the roll out, there are some great incentivised deals available on your energy that require having a smart meter fitted at your property; just remember to check if it is a SMETS 2 meter should you wish to switch in the future.

What data will my smart meter collect and is it secure?

Your smart meter will not store personal details such as your name, address or financial details and once the SMETS 2 are rolled out they will only use a closed communications system called the DCC that has been custom-built for this purpose.

You will also have the final say on how much data your supplier collects from you and when, including whether they share your usage details with other organisations and whether they can use it for sales and marketing purposes.

As your smart meter data isn’t stored or sent through the internet, any information is extremely secure and the threat from hackers to individual households is considered low and, with cyber security at the forefront of the government’s minds, it will stay that way with the new meters in the future.

Commonly Asked Smart Meter Questions

I have bad 3G and mobile signal at home, can I still get a smart meter?

Over 99% of households will be able to have smart meters and as such a range of different technologies will be used, not just mobile signals for your smart meter.

How much will a smart meter cost?

Smart meters and the installation process are free, as is the in-home display if you request one. The cost for the meter and its maintenance is included in your energy bills.

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