This brief guide aims to tell you everything you need to know about smart meters.
You might have heard that the government is pushing for these meters to be fitted in every home. You may have been approached by your energy supplier to offer an appointment to install this in your home.
To be honest, you have likely had multiple letters and text messages, as they are under pressure to meet deadlines for installation. So, you have been worn down and now you are about to have one fitted. Let’s take you through some of the details.
What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is a new way of taking readings of your gas and electricity use within your home. Your previous energy meters have dials that roll over and every so often you are asked for a reading or someone comes to your house to take down details. A smart meter offers a digital reading and sends this reading to your supplier, potentially every 30 minutes.
The aim of the smart meter is threefold: more accurate bills, avoiding the use of estimated bills; to give you up to date information about your energy use, and to promote energy consciousness in people in the UK. The overall push for smart meters is to try to prompt us to conserve energy.
How does this meter work?
The meter uses a secure national communication method. This is called the DCC. This means the smart meter does not connect to your Wi-Fi and you can have a smart meter without needing the internet. This secure network communicates directly and wirelessly with your energy supplier.
You will receive an in-home display unit. This will give you information such as the kilowatts per hour you are consuming. You will also be shown how much you have spent on energy today. It is possible to walk around your home switching on and off your technology to see which is the costliest to run.
What are the benefits of smart meters?
The most significant benefit is that your bills will be more accurate, and you will not be expected to pay amounts based on an estimate. You will also have more control over your energy use.
By knowing what costs you most to run allows you to decide when and if you want to continue to use this so much. The significant push by the government is based on a desire to help you make better decisions for your future and the future of the planet.
There are benefits that will become apparent soon. The smart meter will allow companies to trial new energy tariffs, using the extensive data to come up with packages that could better suit you. This benefit is already enjoyed by prepayment customers – who are now able to access more flexible ways of paying for the energy.
Is it a “must”?
Do you have to have a smart meter? The simple answer is no. No matter how persistent your utility supplier is, you are not obligated to have a smart meter installed.
However, if you are put off because you are worried by some detail or the potential consequences, most suppliers now have a team who are employed solely to answer your questions.
We all have concern about data flowing freely in and out of our homes and you may be concerned that the meter gives the companies an excuse to charge you more. If you do worry about these issues, contact the specialist teams and get your answers.
So, you do not have to, but should you? The simple answer is yes. The smart meter is safe and offers a reliable means of measuring your energy use accurately. It will empower you to save money and it will encourage the energy companies to research ways of charging you for energy that is fairer.
The meter itself has passed the same regulations as that used by baby monitors and mobile phones. Energy companies are keen to note that the smart meter will exceed UK and EU regulations.
Ofgem have prohibited companies from any selling while the meter is being fitted. Therefore you do not need to be concerned by a hard sell. Also, now the new meters are being installed, if you change suppliers your meter can move with you. Therefore, you are not tied to one supplier.
If you now realise you want a smart meter, but you haven’t heard anything yet, contact your utility company. You should be able to set up an appointment within the next year to eighteen months. The companies have been given a target of 2020 to fit all smart meters. The appointment will only take an afternoon – and then your energy use will be smart!
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