What Is a Smart Meter?
Smart meters measure and show your real-time energy and electricity use in the home, as well as how much it is costing you. The smart meter will automatically send the information over to your supplier, cutting out the need to read your gas and electricity meters. This is where smart meters differ from energy monitors as whilst energy monitors can show your usage, they don't communicate that to your provider.
The main benefit of a smart meter is that with the real-time updates you will be better able to control and potentially reduce your energy and electricity use. This also cuts out estimated bills, meaning you only pay for what your use. There are however some concerns around the costs of smart meters. Everyone is paying for the smart meter roll-out through their energy bills, the cost of which is estimated at £11bn. Energy companies are meant to pass on cost savings to customers but there are concerns about the extent to which they will do this.
Types of Smart Meter
There are currently two different types of smart meters:
SMETS1 which are first generation and make up about 18 million of the smart meters installed in the UK. When you switch energy supplier it most likely won't pick up the communication and your meter will go 'dumb'.
SMETS2 which are second generation and make up about 5 million of smart meters in the UK. Meters installed over the last year are likely to be SMETS2. If you switch to a new supplier they will be able to see your usage and meter readings, and your in-home display should show your usage with the new supplier's costs. British Gas, E.on, EDF, SSE and Npower have all confirmed they're only installing SMETS 2 meters now.
How to Get a Smart Meter
To get a smart meter, check out whether they are available in your area with the below suppliers. If they are not, you could consider switching using TechRadar's comparison tool and look for companies that install smart meters.