Smart Meters

Smart Meters

The government has called on energy companies to replace all old-style gas and electricity meters with smart meters. Smart meters measure your exact gas and electricity use and then send all the information back to your energy supplier, without the need for someone to come and take your meter readings.

The official national smart meter roll-out began in 2016 and will finish in 2020. The smart meter infrastructure went live across the UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed, in November 2016.

By June 2018, energy suppliers had installed more than 12 million smart meters in homes in Britain. But the large energy firms need to install more than 50 million meters in people's homes in total. The government revealed that meters were installed at a slower rate in early 2018, than at the end of 2017. But the figures up to June 2018 show the pace is increasing again. In fact, 18% more smart meters were installed between March and June 2018 than the same period a year earlier.

Once fitted, smart meters will send information about your energy use to a central data body called the Data and Communications Company (DCC). The DCC's wireless network will then link each home's smart meter with their supplier, network operators and energy-service companies.

However, many energy companies are still installing smart meters (1st generation) that aren't fully compatible with the network; these are known as SMETS1 (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specification) meters. If you have one of these meters and you switch energy supplier, it may revert back to being 'dumb', and you'll have to take meter readings again. If you have a SMETS1 smart meter and you switch supplier, your smart meter may revert back to being 'dumb'.

Suppliers can continue to install these SMETS1 meters until 5 October 2018. This is the ‘end date’ for SMETS1 installations, although energy regulator Ofgem is allowing 12 suppliers to continue installing them beyond this deadline to help them transfer smoothly to installing SMETS2 meters. This includes British Gas, Eon, First Utility, Npower, Ovo, Scottish Power and Utility Warehouse. The ‘end date’ was pushed back three months (originally it was 13 July 2018). The government said this was because ‘no large energy supplier will be able to complete the transition by July without significant risk’, including ‘issues remaining with some meters’, and ‘insufficient time’ to find and resolve them. It said ‘consumers would bear the consequences’.

The government began consulting in July on plans to allow suppliers another two months to install SMETS1 meters. If the plans go ahead, this would mean suppliers could continue to install them until 5 December 2018. Those companies with permission to install later would have until 15 March 2019. Firms would also be permitted to install SMETS1 prepayment energy meters until 15 March.

SMETS2 meters will be fully compatible with the network. BEIS said that, with the smart meter data and communications network live, 'energy suppliers can start rolling out the next generation of smart meters, putting households and businesses in control of their energy use'. We'll be keeping an eye on what this means for you when suppliers start installing SMETS2 meters – expected early to mid-2018, depending on the supplier.

If you have a first generation smart meter fitted you can change free of charge to the new 2nd generation if you switch suppliers.  If you don’t have a smart meter and are considering having one fitted why not wait until next year when the SMETS2 (2nd generation) are available.

If you’d like further advice on all things energy related, contact Steve Forster, our Energy Advisor at CAN on 0779 1369625 or email steveforster@ca-north.org.uk

(Sources includes BEIS and Which)