Nowadays, most energy suppliers are promoting, installing the new generation of electricity and gas meters, known as smart meters. The installations are of these meters is a hot topic for everyone due to many reasons. On the other hand Government’s goal is that every house in England, Scotland, and Wales should opt for these and offering these meters at no upfront cost.
So, we also decided to jump into the debate and wrote this guide for you to answer all the misconceptions about them. In this read, we will discuss what smart meters are, why you should get them, and will answer your question of are smart meters worth it?
What is a smart meter?
Smart meters are the newest version and perfect replacement for traditional gas and electricity meters, and you can get them at no upfront cost. There are many benefits of using smart meters over traditional meters, and some of them are given below:
Automatic meter readings: When you have a smart meter, it will be located where your existing meters are. Then the meter readings and your other usage information automatically to suppliers, so no more rooting around in dark basements or garages to get the meter readings.
Say no to estimated bills. As your meter sends the reading directly to the concerns, you will be paying only for what you use. With a traditional meter, you’re quite often charged on estimated use, but this is not the case when you have these smart meters.
The in-home display shows pounds and pence: Everyone who opts for the smart meters will also get an ‘in-home display’ – a true game-changer. This tiny gadget communicates wirelessly with your newly installed smart meters, monitors the energy type you’re using, and shows much it will cost you in near real-time. Furthermore, the meter shows readings in pounds and pence, and kWh. So, smart meters help in identifying where you can cut back.
Smart Meter Types:
These features real-time monitoring of your usage and enable wireless communication with the energy supplier. SMETS 1 and SMETS 2 (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications) are two types of smart meters lets check them out below:
SMETS1 – SMETS1 electric meters have 3G technology, and these meters are old compared to the SMETS2 (pre-2017). When you have these electric or gas meters, your suppliers cannot communicate with them.
SMETS2 – These smart meters feature innovative technology that is the latest on the market and communicate through a centralized network, but these meters are not that common yet. Similarly, not all energy suppliers have access to this latest technology, and these don’t charge you on estimates; instead, you will pay what you will use; hence these are called “smart meters.”
How Many Smart Meters Are There in The Wales and UK?
The government’s initial target was to install 50 million meters to household consumers and small businesses by the end of 2021. So far, over 18 million smart meters have been successfully installed, which represents around a 15 percent increase than 2018 and 2019.
Do people like Smart Electric Meters?
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the officials are still carrying on with Smart Meter installations as more and more people are appreciating this offering. Many surveys from August 2017 and April 2019 state that:
- 9 in 10 users who have smart meters are satisfied with the working and installation of these meters.
- 8 in 10 users with smart electric meters say that they are well aware of their energy usage and costs after installing these meters.
- 66% of users who have smart prepayment meters say they will recommend these innovative meters to their family or friends.
- 80% of users who have these electric meters were satisfied with the working and results of these smart electric meters.
- 9 in 10 customers say that topping up is easy and quick after getting a smart electric meter.
Despite all these benefits and surveys, these meters are still controversial, and many people are still thinking about installing them. Let’s check out why:
Why are smart meters controversial?
When these meters were launched on the market, they were criticized for their safety (you can read more about this criticism in Campaigns Against). However, the recent criticisms of these meters is how the government and suppliers are managing the roll-out.
Furthermore, the government plans to install them at every house by the end of 2024, but it has been a bumpy ride so far. In early 2014, EDF Energy demanded a review of the roll-out, stating that the cost to customers would be around £1.8 billion. And customers will pay this cost through measures on their energy bills.
At that time, many suppliers proposed that people could link up their smart electric meters with their smartphones or laptop to reduce this cost. In 2013, independent research and survey conducted by uSwitch stated that around 55% of users were “in the dark” about these electric smart meters. In simple, users didn’t know what these new meters are and how they could benefit from them.
However, that’s not the case now, and later many studies and surveys show that people are actually enjoying these smart meters and more accurate billing. Similarly, nowadays, users were more satisfied with their energy suppliers.
Are There Downsides Of A Smart Meter?
Though installation of smart meters is completely painless, and overall their performance is up to par but still there a few downsides of these meters. Furthermore, it’s vital for every homeowner to understand how these meters work and what information you can monitor from the display.
Similarly, these smart meters will not cost you upfront. Instead, the costs and charges are accumulated in your energy bills that you will have to pay later. Some of the downsides of these meters as per consumer reports are given below for your perusal:
Keep in mind that online technologies are vulnerable to hacking attempts and attacks, so the UK government has set specific rules about the data collected by these new meters that are:
data is collected by your supplier on a monthly basis, but you can also opt for daily and half-hourly collection as per your preferences.
Another significant issue, as per consumer reports, is that your energy supplier can share your data with third-party organizations but after your approval and consent. So, opt for this option after proper research.
Smart meters can go dumb
Most of the smart electric meters are first-generation devices, which can become dumb or lose their functionality after you change the suppliers. However, you will not find this issue in the second generation of smart electric meters, and many suppliers are gradually upgrading the first generation meters to prevent this problem.
Not enough support on prepayment and use tariffs
While many people go with these smart meters for households on prepayment and use tariffs as they help with savings, some suppliers don’t upgrade their internal systems to provide these variants. Similarly, some meter suppliers are not providing prepayment and time of use on the installation of smart meters yet.
Signal issues, especially outside the house
Not all houses or places have a strong radio communication signal, especially outside their houses. If the signals are weak or poor, the smart meters cannot communicate with the concerns. In these cases, your meter will be called ‘dumb,’ and you need to take meter readings manually on your own.
The weak signal inside the house
In large houses, or homes with thick walls or insulation, the signal strength is pretty weak, and that is not good for you. In a few cases, your in Home Display (IHD) might not work properly or only work intermittently, which is annoying and frustrating.
Lastly, many people are worry because their personal information and their energy usage will be shared with third parties. However, those people don’t know that UK law prohibits energy suppliers from sharing or passing user’s personal information without their permission to any third party.
Are Smart Meters Worth It?
Absolutely yes. Smart meters worth it, especially for the people who are serious about reducing their energy consumption and energy cost. Similarly, smart meters are perfect for you if you are concerned about the environment as they are more environmentally friendly.
However, the supplier you pick for the installation of the smart meter matters the most. Luckily, you can easily compare energy suppliers and their performance via your postcode. This comparison will help you in making an informed decision. Moreover, switching energy suppliers is not a big deal, even if you are already using a smart meter.
Overall, smart meters save you money on your energy consumption and allow you to monitor your usage so that you can adjust your power consumption accordingly. And all this brings us to the conclusion that A smart meter worth’s it!