Your guide to smart meters
Your guide to smart meters
In this guide, we highlight the key features and benefits of smart meters, and how you can request one from your energy supplier.
Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meter, and replacing your traditional meters with smart meters means you can:
See how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence
No longer have to submit manual meter readings
Top up via mobile or telephone if you’re on prepay
Receive accurate bills based on actual usage rather than estimated meter readings, making it easier to budget.
What is a smart meter?
Smart meters are the new 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 record how much electricity or gas you use – just like your existing meters. But with a smart meter, you can also see how much energy you’re using, on an in-home display.
The in-home display is sometimes called an IHD. It comes with the smart meter, and can help you keep a closer eye on how much energy you’re using, and how much it’s costing you.
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.
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.
How do in-home displays (IHD) work?
You might have seen an IHD at a friend or neighbour’s house. Some look different, but they all work the same way.
The IHD shows you:
your gas and electricity costs
your energy costs each day, week and month
if you’re using a small or large amount of gas and electricity
your spending goals (only available on some IHDs). You could use this to make changes and spend less if you want to
If you only have a smart meter for gas, your IHD will only show you how much gas you use. If you only have a smart meter for electricity , your IHD will only show you how much electricity you use.
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.
Can I have a smart meter if I pay by prepay key/card/token?
Yes, smart meters are available to prepay 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 pre-payment smart 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.
How could a smart meter help me save 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.
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.
If I rent my property can I get a smart meter?
Yes, if your gas and electricity bills are addressed to you and you pay them, you can ask your energy supplier for a smart meter. You don’t need your landlord’s permission, but you should let them know. If you don’t pay your energy bills, ask your landlord to get one installed for you.
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.
How can I get a smart meter?
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.
Further information about smart meters and the smart meter rollout campaign can be found on Smart Energy GB website.
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 further questions about smart meters, visit Smart Energy GB website for more information.
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.