Your guide to smart meters

Your guide to smart meters

  • Measure how much gas and electricity is being used and show how much it's costing on a handy in-home display (IHD)

  • Enable accurate, not estimated bills - so you know exactly how much your bill should be, and how much to budget

  • Send your gas and electricity readings directly and securely to the energy supplier so you don't have to

Smart meter benefits

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Smart meters enable accurate billing, helping you take the stress out of budgeting and putting you back in control.​

Smart meters could help you take control of your energy usage by automatically measuring how much gas and electricity you're using, how much it's costing you, and presenting it on the in-home display device.

More than 21 million smart meters are now operating across Great Britain.

In this guide, we look to highlight some of the key features and benefits of smart meters, and how you can request one from your energy supplier. 

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace traditional meters.

Unlike traditional meters, a smart meter sends your gas and electricity readings directly to your energy supplier so you don’t have to. Smart meters enable accurate, not estimated billling. Seeing how much you're spending on the in-home display (IHD) means fewer surprises when your bill comes through, which is one less thing to worry about.

How are smart meters installed?


Once you’ve agreed to a time for your smart meter installation with your energy supplier, a trained installer will come round to fit your smart meter. You have to be at home for the installation, but the whole process shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. 

Depending on whether you're having one or both replaced, you'll get an electricity smart meter and/or a gas smart meter. These smart meters normally go exactly where your old meters were. If they need to be fitted nearby, the installer will ask you first.


Different suppliers may install different smart meter makes and models, but rest assured that every smart meter installed as part of this national rollout must meet a common set of technical standards.


You’ll also be offered an in-home display – a display screen that you can put anywhere in your home. You don’t have to have one, but it’s the easiest way to see what energy you’re using and what it’s costing you. This is provided at no extra cost.

What is the smart meter installation process?


How do in-home displays (IHD) work?

During your smart meter installation, the installer should set up and show you how your in-home display (IHD) works. This will include how to see how much you are using, spending and on some IHDs the ability to set budgets.


You can change your settings to allow you to view your energy usage either: 

  • Per Day

  • Per Week

  • Per Month

The IHD shows you in near-real time the amount of energy you use in pounds and pence. Being able to view your usage makes it easier to identify situations where you maybe using a lot of energy and help you adapt ways in which you could reduce this.

Energy suppliers offer different IHDs, which means yours may look different to your friends or neighbours. But they all provide the same information and functionalities.

Accessible in-home display (IHD)

For anyone who is blind, partially sighted, or has difficulties with dexterity or memory loss, an accessible in-home display (AHID) could make tracking energy usage easier. The AIHD has been developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), and includes features such as large buttons and text-to-speech functionality. Contact your supplier to find out more.

How could a smart meter save me money?

A smart meter could help you with your household budgeting. The in-home display(IHD) shows you in near-real time the amount of energy you use in pounds and pence. Allowing you to keep a closer eye on your energy spending habits.


This could help you find ways to reduce energy waste around your home and save money. For example, you could save around £35 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode*.


Being able to see how much energy you are using, as you use it means on those cold winter nights when you might be concerned about the cost of turning up your heating, you can stay warm knowing exactly what it’s costing you.


Smart meters are installed at no extra cost, and as smart meters enable accurate, not estimated bills, you know exactly how much your bill should be, and how much to budget.

Can I have a smart meter if I pay by pre-pay key/card/token?

Yes, smart meters are available to pre-pay customers and can offer you more top-up options so there is no need for an emergency trip to the shops. Smart meters can allow you to top up online, via mobile (text & phone) or in a shop.

A smart pre-payment meter will be able to show you:

  • how much credit you have left

  • how much emergency credit you have (and when it has been activated)

  • your debt balance (if you have one)

  • if your credit’s getting low

Smart meters will be able to switch between payment modes (credit and prepay) and there will be no need for a physical meter change.


Can smart meters access my data?

No, the data your smart meter captures about your energy usage is strongly protected by law.


Smart meters were designed in consultation with the UK's top security experts, and can only measure the amount of energy you use.


Personal details like your name, address and bank account details are not stored on, or transmitted by, your smart meter.


Rest assured, smart meters operate on a secure system, ensuring data is only visible to the energy supplier and authorised parties where consumer consent is given.


If you have other concerns about smart meters, take a look at Smart Energy GB’s mythbusting smart meter problems article for more information.


How can I get a smart meter? 

You can get a smart meter by registering your interest with your energy supplier directly. 


Alternatively, Smart Energy GB (the government backed-campaign promoting smart meters) have an information page that will take you directly to your energy supplier's smart meter webpage. 

Who are Smart Energy GB?

Smart Energy GB is the not-for-profit, government-backed campaign helping everyone in Britain understand the importance of smart meters and their benefits to people and the environment. We are working in partnership with Smart Energy GB to highlight the benefits of smart meters and providing support and advice, on how to get one and answer any questions you may have.

Further information about smart meters and the smart meter rollout campaign can be found on Smart Energy GB website.

Please note: Eligibility of smart meters and accessible in-home displays may vary. Consumer action is required to obtain cost savings and budgeting benefits of smart meters.

*Data courtesy of the Energy Saving Trust 2021.