What is a smart meter

1. What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is a new generation gas and electricity meter that is being installed by suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland. 

The meter allows the suppliers to know how much energy you are consuming in real time. This means you no longer need to take meter readings from the meter display which is the case for non smart i.e. dumb meters, where you have to take a meter reading from the display of the meter and provide the reading to your energy supplier so they can bill you for you for the actual amount of energy you consumed. If you do not provide these readings to your supplier then they will simply estimate your consumption.

The smart meter also comes with an real time energy display that shows the volume of energy and cost in real time. Although this is not an integral part of the smart meter, you can opt out from having one installed. 

For more information on what is a smart meter check out our video below.

2. What does a smart meter look like?

Image of an electricity smart meter
Image of an gas smart meter
Image of realtime energy display

3. How do I get a smart meter?

You can request a smart meter from your energy supplier, alternatively Smart Energy GB are the body responsible for the roll out of smart meters across the UK and the links below can be used to make a request to have smart meter installed by your supplier: 

  • Click here to request a electricity smart meter install 
  • Click here to request a gas smart meter install (please note that to have a gas smart meter installed, you will need to have an electric meter installed)

When you visit the suppliers website to book for a smart meter install, you will need to book a date and time for the install. On the date and time of the install, you will need to provide your supplier with access to your property to carry out the works and complete the smart meter installation.

4. What are the benefits of having a smart meter?

Below are a few reasons why having a smart meter is a positive thing:

  1. Accurate bills – this is because your consumption is based on actual meter readings taken directly from the smart meter by the supplier.
  2. Energy monitoring – With the ability to read your smart meters remotely, suppliers now provide you with an app that allows you to see how much energy you are consuming and the associated cost on a more detailed level so you can determine where you can save energy and measure the impact on your monthly outgoings compared to previous periods.
  3. You no longer need to provide open and closing readings – If you switch to a new supplier who also supports smart meters, you no longer need to take opening and closing readings as this information is taken directly from the smart meter by the old and new supplier.
  4. You take advantage of cheaper tariffs – Suppliers that offer smart tariffs will require you to have a smart meter installed before you can switch to the cheaper tariff they offer under a smart meter arrangement.
  5. You can see your home energy consumption – Additional devices that are supplied with a smart meter can allow you to visually see your home energy consumption and costs in real time without having to access an app or another online portal. This will allow you to make more immediate and informed decisions on how you consume energy in your home to help reduce your energy costs.  

5. Are there different types of smart meters?

Yes there are. Smart meters are split into 2 separate groups known as Smets 1 and 2 whereby the acronym “Smets” stands for “Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications”. 

Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (Smets) 1

These are the earlier generation smart meters that were rolled out in 2016 and they comprise of the following:

  • Communication with the energy supplier via 3G – similar to how mobile phones work;
  • A setup to provide your energy consumption readings to your supplier at set intervals.

Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (Smets) 2

These are second generation smart meters which are very similar to Smets 1 meters. The only difference is that these meters communicate over a government data network so more suppliers are able to support these meters. So if you do have a Smets 2 meter and switch suppliers, it is more likely that your new supplier will be able to support this meter and it will retain its smart functionality. 

6. How do suppliers read smart meters?

Supplier read smart meters in accordance to the following:

Smets 1 – 3G via a sim card embedded in the meter.

Smets 2 – via a secure government data network

7. Are all suppliers able to read smart meters?

Smets 1 

Due to the 3G communication setup, these meters can only be operated by a number of suppliers. So if you switch to a supplier (generally medium to smaller suppliers) that cannot support this meter then the meter reverts back to a dumb meter where you have to take meter readings from the display of the meter and provide them to your supplier so they can bill you based on your actual energy usage.

Smets 2

If you do have a Smets 2 meter and switch suppliers, it is more likely that your new supplier will be able to support this meter and it will retain its smart functionality. 

If you have a Smets 1 or 2 meter and looking to switch suppliers and want to know if your meter will retain its smart functionality the best way to confirm this is to contact the new supplier to confirm whether they support Smets 2 meters.

Below is a list of all the suppliers who support Smets 1 & 2 meters and who are currently rolling them out. We recommend that you contact the supplier first to confirm that they do support the smart meter that you have or to confirm that they are rolling them out in case you want to have one installed.

SupplierSmets 1Smets 2Smart meter roll out
British GasYesYesSmets 1 & 2
Bristol EnergyYesYes
BulbNoYesSmets 2
Cooperative EnergyYesYesSmets 2
EcotricityYesYesSmets 2
EDFYesYesSmets 2
EONYesYesSmets 2
Green Star EnergyYesSmets 2
NpowerYesYesSmets 2
Octopus EnergyYesYesSmets 2
Ovo EnergyYesYesSmets 2
Pure PlanetYesSmets 2
Scottish PowerYesYesSmets 2
Shell EnergyYesYesSmets 2
Spark EnergyYesSmets 2
SSEYesYesSmets 2
UtilitaYesNoSmets 1
Utility WarehouseYesYesSmets 2

8. What if I don’t want a smart meter?

Having a smart meter is optional and you are under no legal obligation to have one, however suppliers are now making it a requirement that you have a smart meter in order to sign up to their new tariffs so you may not be able to take advantage of cheaper energy prices if you opt to not have one. 

9. Do I have to pay to have a smart meter?

No, all smart meter installations are free and paid for by the suppliers.

10. How do I find the best smart meter tariffs and switch to it?

By signing up to our service you do not need to find the best tariff we do it for you and once we found the right one for you we automatically switch you to it. For more information visit our home page so you can start saving now.

11. Will a smart meter reduce my energy costs?

This is a difficult question to answer however some experts would argue that having a smart meter means your energy data will be more readily available for you to review and assess which in turn will help influence your behaviour and decisions to reduce your energy costs.