Many gas and electricity suppliers have started offering to install smart meters for their customers. Your supplier will contact you to tell you when you can get one.
Why am I being offered a smart meter?
All energy suppliers must aim to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020. For more information about the smart meter roll out, see Smart Energy GB website (opens another website). For more information about metering, see Understand your energy meter.
How much will it cost to have a smart meter installed?
You will not be charged separately for a smart meter or for the in-home display. Under current arrangements you pay for the cost of your meter and its maintenance through your energy bills, and this will be the same for smart meters.
Do I have to have a smart meter?
While government and Ofgem believe that all consumers will benefit from having smart meters, they aren’t compulsory and you can choose not to have one.
Choosing not to have a smart meter installed may mean you don’t have access to all the available tariffs on the market, some of which could be cheaper.
If you do not want to have a smart meter installed now, you will still be able to have one installed (free of charge) at a later date.
Smart meters and switching
If you have a smart meter, you can shop around and switch supplier as before.
During the foundation stage of the smart meter rollout, a number of suppliers are installing first generation smart meters. Consumers with first generation smart meters can realise, at an early stage, many of the benefits of smart metering. If you switch supplier and the new supplier cannot operate the meter in smart mode, they will need to operate it as a traditional meter with meter readings taken manually.
Suppliers are expected to start installing second generation smart meters in late 2017. All suppliers will be able to operate second generation meters. This is because the government has appointed a company - the Data and Communications Company (DCC) - to establish a new national infrastructure that will enable communications between smart meters and all energy suppliers.
In time it’s planned that first generation smart meters will be part of the DCC system too. This will give everyone the flexibility to switch between suppliers without losing smart features.
Smart meters in rented property
If you directly pay your energy supplier for the gas or electricity in your rented property, you can choose to have a smart meter installed. Although we’d recommend you tell your landlord before you get one. There may be rules in your tenancy agreement about how energy is supplied to the property, including the type of meter that can be installed. If the landlord pays the energy bill for the property then the decision to get a smart meter is up to them.
We’re encouraging landlords to help their tenants benefit from the national rollout of smart meters, and to tell you they are happy for you to install one. If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to alter metering at your property, your landlord or letting agency should not unreasonably prevent it.
For more information, see How to switch energy supplier if you're a tenant.
Smart meters and your data
You have a choice about how your energy consumption data is used, apart from where it is required for billing and other regulated purposes.
You will be able to see your real-time energy consumption data on your in-home display. You will also be able to download detailed historical data from your home network, should you wish to.
Your energy company, and the energy networks, can access appropriate data to enable them to send you accurate bills and carry out other essential tasks. For example, suppliers can access monthly consumption data for billing purposes.
Suppliers will have to get your consent to access half-hourly data, or to use data for marketing purposes. They can access daily data unless you object.
You will also be able to share data with third parties (such as switching sites) if you want them to give you advice on the best tariff for you.
The ‘Data Guide for Smart Meters’ (opens a new website) published by Energy UK outlines the key information customers need to know about their rights and choices when they get a smart meter installed.
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.