Electricians Blog

Is it worth getting a smart meter?

The way that we manage our energy consumption has changed vastly over the years – for many households across the UK, the days of visits from the gas man or electric meter reader are long gone. Smart meters have become commonplace, but there are still some people who are holding off installing this type of equipment.

One of the most common questions surrounding these devices is around whether it is worth getting a smart meter – will it really save you that much hassle? In short, a smart meter is an excellent investment for your household, and there are many advantages to having one, we will look at these in a little more detail later on.

In this article, we are going to be exploring whether getting a smart meter is worth it, how much you can expect to pay for one and what you can expect once it is installed.

What Is A Smart Meter?

A smart meter is a device that is installed in your home and will replace the traditional gas and electric meters that we have all become so accustomed to seeing. Unlike the older models, smart meters can send your power usage directly to your supplier, and they do this every half an hour – this means that when your bill arrives, it will be exact rather than an estimate.

Many people are concerned about the sending of data across unsecured networks, but the great thing about all modern smart meters is that they use what is known as the DDC. This is a nationwide communication network that is absolutely secure.

In-Home Displays

An in-home display for your Smart Meter

While your smart meter will be fitted in place of your old, traditional meter, you will also receive an in-home display which is a handy screen that displays all the information relating to your energy consumption. You will see how many kilowatts per hour are being used, the current cost of your power consumption and other handy features such as the time and date.

Some very smart displays can give you information on how much CO² is being produced.

Additionally, if you use a pay-as-you-go meter, your current balance will be displayed on the screen. Most people opt to keep their smart displays on a kitchen counter, window sill or shelf thanks to their compact design.

How Do Smart Meters Work?

One of the most incredible things about smart meters is that you don’t need to do anything – they essentially run themselves. A qualified smart meter installation expert will fit the product and show you how to use the controls – which very rarely need to be adjusted, and then your new smart meter will take care of everything else.

Smart meter
A smart meter replaces your traditional meter

These devices operate, as we mentioned earlier using a nationwide communication network, through which they send all the data from your meter to your supplier.

The smart meter works by recording your energy use and storing the data. Every thirty minutes, this data is sent via the DDC to your supplier. They are then able to calculate an accurate bill rather than sending you an estimate – which could result in you owing money or overpaying for your gas and electricity.

What Are The Benefits Of A Smart Meter?

More and more Uk households are jumping on the smart meter bandwagon, and it isn’t difficult to see why, especially when we look at how practical and advantageous these devices are.

With this in mind, let’s take a moment to explore some of the excellent benefits you can expect to see by installing a smart meter.

  • The most obvious benefit of installing a smart meter is that you won’t ever have to worry about getting a reading again. Whether you used to have someone come to take a reading, or you took and submitted them yourself – this is not a practical solution to the problem. With the smart meter’s ability to send this data for you, you can simply sit back and relax.
  • One of the major concerns of many homeowners is that they are paying far too much for their gas and electric, and until now, there hasn’t been much that you can do other than keep switching suppliers. But installing a smart meter puts you in control of what you are spending thanks to the detailed insight into how much power is being used. You are then able to use this information to control your energy consumption, and ultimately save money.
  • Since your smart meters give accurate readings to your supplier, you can feel confident that you will never be overcharged for your gas or electricity again. In days gone by, if you did not send a reading, the energy supplier would have to estimate, and this could result in large bills.
  • Your smart in-home display will allow you to pick up any appliances that are faulty thanks to the detailed consumption information. This is not only safer for your home but will also mean that you can address these issues much more quickly.
  • One of the best advantages of a smart meter is that since energy companies are in favour of these devices, you may be able to get access to an exclusive tariff if you own one.
  • Thanks to their ability to bring awareness to the amount of power we are using, a smart meter is an excellent way to remain eco-friendly and preserve precious energy. There is a significant focus on this at the moment, and rightly so, but it can be challenging to track your carbon footprint without the detailed insight that our smart meter can give you.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Having A Smart Meter?

There are some disadvantages to installing a smart meter, but these are far outweighed by the incredible number of benefits that these modern devices have to offer.

  • If you have an older generation smart meter fitted in your home, these may become ‘dumb’ if you change supplier. This means that the meter is unable to send data, but this is an issue that can be easily rectified by calling your supplier.
  • From time to time, your in-home display may show inaccurate data, and this can mean that your readings are not correct. Once again, contacting your supplier for assistance can solve the problem.
  • If the signal goes down, your readings will not be sent. But this is an infrequent problem and for the most part, these meters work very well.

How Do I Get A Smart Meter?

The good news is that there are plans to have every household in the country being offered a smart meter by the end of 2020, so if you haven’t already been provided one, you will very soon. Although, do keep in mind that there has been some suggestion that energy companies may have to push back this deadline to 2025.

Alternatively, you can request one from your supplier who will arrange an installation for you. However, it does pay to bear in mind that some companies will make you wait until they are ready to install in your area.

What Is The Cost Of A Smart Meter?

Since it is compulsory for energy suppliers to offer a smart meter to all UK households, the government cannot impose a cost to homeowners and renters to have a meter fitted. This means that when it comes time to install your smart meter, there will not be any cost to you.

Some people may be concerned that a smart meter will use up data on their WiFi package which could result in higher internet bills, but since these meters do not operate on this channel, there is no danger of increased broadband charges.

Conclusion

Smart meters are the new way of sending your gas and electricity readings to your supplier. This means that you will no longer need to send your readings, and this will result in more accurate energy bills.

There are plans to roll out smart meters across the country and to have them in every home and small business by the end of 2020, but thanks to several factors, this date could be set back by as many as five years. Either way, you can expect to have an invitation to have a smart meter fitted by your energy supplier in the near future – if you haven’t had one already.

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