All energy suppliers must aim to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020. They will contact you to tell you when you can get one or you can contact them and request one.
Your supplier is responsible for installing any smart metering equipment. This includes a smart electricity and gas meter, an in-home display that will tell you about your energy usage in pounds and pence, and a communications hub that will send and receive information over a secure network to your supplier so they can bill you accurately.
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.
While the government think that all consumers will benefit from smart meters, they aren’t compulsory and you can choose not to have one. If you don’t want to have a smart meter now, you will still be able to have one installed for free at a later date.
I live in a rented property, Can I still have a smart meter installed?
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. We’d recommend you tell your landlord before you get one. That’s because 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 your landlord pays the energy bill for the property, 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.
How does it work?
Your smart meter will store data about your energy use every 30 minutes. You have a choice about how this data is used, apart from where is it is needed to bill you and for other regulated purposes.
Your energy supplier and the energy network companies that run the pipes and wires that deliver energy to your home, can access data to ensure accurate billing and carry out other essential tasks.
Suppliers can access your daily data unless you object, but have to get your permission to access half-hourly data, or to use your data for marketing purposes. If you give permission, suppliers and third parties can use your data to offer you new products and services. For example, they may give you access to your energy consumption data online or through an app, give you advice on the best tariff for you, or offer a smart tariff that charges different amounts at different times.
You will be able to see your real-time and historical energy use data on your in-home display. You will also be able to share data with third parties such as switching sites if you choose to.
Can I still flip if I have a smart meter?
During the foundation stage of the smart meter rollout, a number of suppliers are installing first generation smart meters. If you flip 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 during 2018. 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.
First generation smart meters are expected to be connected to the new national infrastructure in the first half 2019. This will give everyone the flexibility to flip between suppliers without losing smart features.