Smart meters are gradually being installed in homes across the UK, putting an end to estimated bills and allowing us to see exactly how much energy we’re using.
The government has set a target for energy suppliers to install 53m smart meters into homes and small businesses by the end of 2020.
However, according to consumer association Which? so far large suppliers have installed just 11m meters. It says that to meet the 2020 target suppliers would need to install an average of 30 smart meters a minute every day for the next two years.
How smart meters work
Smart meters enable you to see exactly how much energy you’re using and what it’s costing you in pounds and pence. The meters can communicate directly with suppliers, delivering real-time information on your energy usage, so there’s no need for bills to be estimated, or for anyone to pop round and read your meter.
According to Smart Energy GB, which is responsible for promoting the scheme, smart meters should help people save around 2% on their energy bills a year. For the average household, this should mean a typical saving of almost £50 a year on their energy bills by 2030.
Early versions of smart meters have been criticised for making it harder for people to switch energy suppliers, as they can lose their functionality if the user moves to a different provider. However, the latest generation of meters should enable consumers to switch without losing the features of their meters.
How do you get a smart meter?
Everyone should eventually be offered a smart meter free of charge by their energy supplier, although it’s not compulsory to have one. If you want a smart meter but haven’t yet been offered one, you can contact your supplier to request one.
The meter will be fitted by your supplier, and you’ll also be given a handheld in-home display which shows you the cost of the energy you’re using.
You will need one smart meter for gas and one for electricity, but if you get both these from the same supplier, they should aim to install them on the same day. If you get your gas and electricity from different suppliers, each of your suppliers will install a meter.
Have you joined the smart meter revolution?