There is a lot of confusion about the topic of smart meters, including what they are, what they do, and what the benefits of having one are. Will they cost you anything to install, and can they really save you money? Let’s find out!
The government is committed to rolling out smart meters to all properties in the UK by the end of 2020. All of the major energy suppliers are now offering them to their customers, but you don’t actually have to have one installed if you don’t want it.
What is a smart meter?
Many people think that a smart meter is just the little monitor that tells you how much electricity and gas you are using, but that is only part of the system. The main element of a smart meter is the meter itself, which is able to send readings to the supplier via the mobile phone network.
This means that whether you have an external gas meter box or your meters are indoors, you never have to worry about missing the meter reader or working out which numbers you need to fill in on the little postcard you get when you do. You don’t have to pay to get a smart meter installed; the cost is covered in your bills.
Pros and cons
The benefits of this to the consumer are that you will never get an estimated bill again. There is also the monitor that goes with the meter that tells you how much energy you are using at different times and lets you adjust your habits accordingly.
The benefits to the supplier are that regardless of where your gas meter box is located, they always get up-to-date readings. They can also get readings at different times of day, which allows them to manage the energy supply accurately. In future, this means they will be able to charge different rates at peak and off-peak times.
On the downside, smart meters may not work well in areas where the mobile signal isn’t good. There are also security worries that the meters could be hacked or that criminals could determine when your house is empty if the data falls into the wrong hands. If you’re worried, you can ask for readings to be sent less frequently.