GoEco Explains: What a Smart Meter is and Why You Should Have One

A smart meter is a piece of tech which is designed to help you with your energy use. Just like your traditional meter, smart meters measure your gas and electricity usage, but they also transmit information straight to your energy company, meaning you no longer have to provide readings and that your bills are no longer estimated. A smart meter also comes with an in-home display (IHD) which will tell you how much gas and electricity you’re using including the costing in pounds.

The in-home display (IHD) of the smart meter allows you to track your energy usage quickly and easily.

A smart meter is always the first step for anyone wanting a smart heating system. It alone can help you track your energy usage, and integrating it with a smart heating system can take you even further in optimising your energy usage and saving money. Read more about smart heating systems here.

How Do Smart Meters Work?

A smart meter will replace your existing gas and electricity meters, sending the data from the IHD about your electricity and gas use directly to your supplier. The electricity meter remains on and gives real time data whereas the gas meter only switches on to do a reading every half hour. Information from both meters appears on the same IHD. This data is communicated to your company network via an external system called the Data Communications Company network, and helps them to improve their services. The smart meters use an independent network so you do not need to connect them to your wifi. 

There are two types of smart meter; SMETS 1 and SMETS 2. SMETS stands for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification. You may hear some chatter about your SMETS1 going ‘dumb,’ which is to say losing some of its functions. When smart meters first began to be fitted, they were meant to work no matter what energy company you were with, but a glitch meant that when people switched suppliers they stopped working as well. There is now a national program to upgrade everyone to a SMETS 2.

smart meter reading
A reading on the smart meter itself rather than the In-Home Display (IHD)

Why Should I Get a Smart Meter?

Smart meters are projected to save £250 on our fuel bills between 2013 – 2034, most of which will come from reduced running costs from energy companies who will in theory pass savings onto the consumer. 

The meter isn’t a fantastic money saving device in itself, but it does enable you to make informed decisions about your energy use. By keeping a closer eye on energy use and costs using the IHD, you should be able to reduce your bills more easily than you can currently. Smart meters are also not intended as a green device but can work that way if you wish by helping you to be more efficient. Likewise any efficiency increase from energy companies as a result of the smart meter scheme is welcome. 

Some energy companies offer cheaper tariffs to those with a smart meter, so if you’re willing to shop around it may be that getting one can help you reduce bills in that way.

How do I Get a Smart Meter?

By June 2025, all energy companies are obliged to have offered their customers a smart meter for gas and electricity, and will install it free of charge. The costs are recovered through your bills, just the same as a traditional meter, so there is no additional cost upfront. 

By June 2025, all energy companies are obliged to have offered their customers a smart meter for gas and electricity.

The government wants everyone in the UK to have a smart meter, however installation will depend on your supplier and their rollout process. For instance, some companies may organise installations geographically, while for others it may depend on the ease of installation in particular homes.

If you are eager to get your meter fitted sooner rather than later, it is well worth checking out your supplier’s website for more details. Some will allow you to register your interest, share regular email updates on when you can expect your meter or even book an installation.

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