About smart meters
Smart meters are the next generation of electricity and gas meters and will bring an end to estimated bills.
They replace existing gas and electricity meters to provide customers and energy companies with accurate and up-to-date information on energy being used both in the home and across the country.
What are smart meters?
Smart meters are an updated version of the gas and electricity meters you already have at home. The government has mandated that, by 2020, the old meters will all be replaced by suppliers. Smart meters are roughly the same size as your current meters and will be installed in the same place. The new meters allow the energy company to read the meter remotely, without having to send a meter reader to your home. This means there will be no more estimated bills, and you won’t have to read your meter.
Domestic customers will also get an in-home display (IHD) as part of their installation and at no cost. This will show you near real time information on the gas and electricity you are using, including how much it is costing and the related CO2. This information could help you lower your energy use.
Will smart meters mean energy companies can disconnect customers supply more easily?
No. Suppliers will go through exactly the same rigorous Ofgem managed process before disconnecting a customer’s supply as before, the only difference is that an engineer doesn’t need to visit the property. Customers who are having difficulties paying their energy bills should contact their energy supplier as soon as possible.
How much data is collected with smart metering and is it secure?
Smart meters record the amount of gas and electricity you use every thirty minutes. This information gets stored on your smart meter and is transmitted to your energy supplier. How often your data is transmitted can change, depending on how much you are prepared to share.
Your energy supplier can collect:
• A monthly meter reading without needing to ask you;
• A daily meter reading giving you the ability to opt-out; or
• A 30 minute meter reading if you opt-in to a service your supplier provides that requires detailed data on your consumption.
Normally this data will be collected after you have used the energy (ie not in real-time) unless there is a specific query about your bill.
For more information, please see the Data Guide for Smart Meters (PDF 70KB).
Making sure that the information generated by smart meters is secure and protecting customer privacy are of the utmost importance for the roll-out of smart meters nationwide. Suppliers and government are working to make sure that smart meter data as secure as possible.
When will I get a smart meter?
Many suppliers are already installing smart meters. Please contact your energy supplier for more information.
Are there any health implications from the technology used in smart metering?
No. Smart meters use radio waves to send your meter readings back to your supplier. Radio waves are very common in the environment and are used in radio and television broadcasts, wireless computer networks, radar, and cordless and mobile phones. The independent adviser to the government on public health, Public Health England (formally, the Health Protection Agency), has said that the evidence to date suggests exposure to the radio waves produced by smart meters do not pose a risk to health.
For more information, please check the Public Health England's website section on smart meters.