A guide to smart meters

08 December 2014

Our guide gives you the answers to five frequently asked questions about smart meters:

Most UK households over the next few years will have a smart meter fitted. This will measure householders' energy use and send readings directly to their gas and electricity suppliers.

The smart meter roll-out had been due to start in the second half of 2015, but reports now suggest this will be put back until the following year.

Energy companies will be responsible for installing meters in their customers’ homes, and the programme is currently scheduled to be completed by 2020.

How do smart meters work?

Smart meters record the gas and electricity consumed in the same way as normal meters, but they are able to send reading back to suppliers instantly.

This means customers will get accurate bills rather than those based on estimates.

Smart meters can also transmit their consumption information to screens in the home so that customers can see how much gas and electricity they are using, at what time of day, and how much it is costing.

How much do smart meters cost?

The meters are expected to cost about £200 per home to install. Householders won’t have to pay this upfront, but the expense is likely to be added gradually to bills along with the cost of maintenance and any upgrades.

Can smart meters save you money?

The Government has supported the roll-out of smart meters because it expects them to help people reduce their energy consumption.

If households can get a better idea of what they are using the most gas and electricity for and how much it costs, they are more likely to take steps to cut back where possible.

When will you receive a smart meter?

Some homes already have smart meters: this depends on whether a particular supplier has already decided to make meters available in certain areas.

If you don’t have one yet, your provider may be able to give you an idea of when it plans to start installations in your area.

Otherwise, you can simply wait to be contacted about an installation.

Can you switch energy suppliers after having a smart meter installed?

You will still be able to move from one energy company to another after you have a smart meter put in.

If you already have a new meter and want to switch, it could mean that your smart meter loses some of its functionality. For example it may temporarily be unable to send usage information off to help calculate bills.

But this is not expected to be a problem once the official roll-out is completed.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.