Most gas and electricity suppliers will start offering to install smart meters from Autumn 2016, some have offered this service earlier. Your supplier will contact you to tell you when you can get one.
Why am I being offered a smart meter?
The government wants energy suppliers to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020. For more about them, see Understand your energy meter. Details about the roll out can be found on the Smart Energy GB website (opens another website).
Costs to install a smart meter
The cost of installing smart meters will be covered by all our energy bills, so you shouldn’t be asked to pay an upfront cost.
Refusing a smart meter
Smart meters aren’t compulsory and you can choose not to have one. If your supplier says you must have one, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline (opens another website).
Choosing not to have a smart meter installed may mean, in future, you don’t have access to all the available tariffs on the market, some of which could be cheaper.
It is possible to have a smart meter installed and to request that your supplier turns off the ’smart’ functionality so your usage data and information isn’t automatically sent to your supplier. You can then get this turned back on if you want to in the future.
Early smart meters, ‘Advanced meters’ and switching
Some suppliers have voluntarily offered to install and trial early versions of smart meter technology or offer similar products like ‘advanced meters’ if they’re not ready to offer smart meters just yet.
If you have a smart meter, including earlier versions, you can still shop around and switch supplier as before. Suppliers can’t refuse to supply you if you have a smart meter and want to switch either.
Early smart meters or advanced meters may have different specifications to the government standard required as part of the smart meter roll out (known as 'SMETS compliance'), so it's important you understand your options fully before having one installed.
Having a non SMETS-compliant smart meter may mean you need to upgrade your meter in future and, if you choose to switch supplier, others could have difficulty operating its advanced features, like taking remote meter reads. In the latter case, your supplier should still be able to come and take a manual meter read instead.
If you have an early smart meter or advanced meter, Ofgem is ensuring you’re protected. Through the standard licence conditions we set, your supplier must:
- tell you if switching supplier could mean you lose any advanced features of your meter, if your meter was installed after 1 November 2012.
- tell you if switching supplier could mean you lose any meter functionality or associated services.
- If they are a larger installing supplier, offer services such a remote meter reads should other suppliers request them.
You can view the rules in detail in the suppliers’ Standard Licence Conditions.
Smart meters and your data
Early smart meters will become ‘interoperable’ – meaning one supplier can use another’s smart meter – once they are enrolled to the Data and Communications Company (also referred to as the 'DCC'). The DCC is appointed by the government to manage communications between smart meters and suppliers. Ofgem will regulate the DCC.
The DCC will start operating later in 2016. In time it’s planned that all smart meters will be part of the DCC system. This will give you the flexibility to switch between suppliers without losing smart features, like accurate billing based on automatic reads sent direct to your supplier, or having to change or upgrade your meter.
Your supplier must ask your permission to collect information, other than your meter reads, which they may be interested in to give you a more personalised service or offers.
You can find out more on the development of the DCC in their factsheet: Building a smart meter network (opens another website).
Get help and advice
If you need help, advice or further assistance:
- contact your gas or electricity supplier in the first instance
- contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline (opens another website)
- visit the Smart Energy GB website (opens another website) for more on the smart meter roll out.
- visit the Citizens Advice energy shopping guide (opens another website) for tips on getting the best deal for you.