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Smart Metering and Switching

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters and they can offer a range of intelligent functions.

For example they can tell the consumer how much energy they are using through a display in their home. They can also communicate directly with the energy supplier meaning that no one will need to come and read the meter in future.

Most of the smart meters that are being installed today use mobile phone-type signals to send meter readings to the consumer’s supplier, and other wireless technologies to send information to the in-home display.

What are the benefits for consumers?

Smart meters bring a wide range of benefits. For example:

  •  smart meters give near real time information on energy use – expressed in pounds and pence;
  •  the consumer will be able to better manage their energy use, save money and reduce emissions;
  •  smart meters will bring an end to estimated billing – the consumer will only be billed for the energy they actually use, helping them budget better;
  •  easier switching – smoother and faster to switch suppliers to get the best deals.

The consumer will not be charged separately for a smart meter or for the in-home display. Under current arrangements they pay for the cost of their meter and its maintenance through energy bills, and this will be the same for a smart meter.

How can I get one? 

Most households will have smart meters installed by their energy company between 2016 and the end of 2020, although some energy companies are starting to install smart meters now. If a consumer is interested in getting a smart meter now, they should shop around and contact different energy companies to see what their plans are, or visit the Smart Energy GB website,  for more information.

What happens if I already have a smart meter and want to switch supplier? 

Smart meters will ultimately make switching suppliers easier and quicker. It is important that smart metering devices work together (even if from different providers) and also that consumers can still use the meter on change of supplier.

Anyone who has a smart meter before the national communications infrastructure goes live this year can still switch to a better deal – for some, their smart meters will keep operating in smart mode, and for others the meter will operate the same as a traditional one.

Energy companies must make it clear to customers if their meter can no longer be operated in smart mode if they choose to switch supplier. Customers in this position will be no worse off than those with traditional meters.

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