Research has shown that around 86 per cent of people who have had a smart meter installed make significant changes to their energy-saving behaviour.
Smart Energy GB – the government body tasked with ensuring customers understand smart meters – surveyed 2,332 people’s energy attitudes and usage before and after upgrading to a smart meter and found, in most cases, this enthusiasm is maintained during the months and years after installation.
The results also show nearly four in 10 people fitted energy efficient lightbulbs immediately after having a smart meter installed, increasing to more than two-thirds of those who have had one for more than two years.
Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB, said: “This research shows that smart meters are bringing real changes to people’s bills and that we’re using them to make positive changes to our energy behaviour the longer we have them.”
How much will it cost to have a smart meter installed?
You will not be charged separately for a smart meter or for the in-home display. Under current arrangements, you pay for the cost of your meter and its maintenance through your energy bills; this will be the same for smart meters.
Do I have to have a smart meter?
While government and Ofgem believe that all consumers will benefit from having smart meters, they aren’t compulsory and you can choose not to have one.
Choosing not to have a smart meter installed may mean you don’t have access to all the available tariffs on the market, some of which could be cheaper.
If you do not want to have a smart meter installed now, you will still be able to have one installed free of charge at a later date.
Smart meters and switching
If you have a smart meter, you can shop around and switch supplier as before.
During the foundation stage of the smart meter rollout, a number of suppliers are installing first generation smart meters. Consumers with first generation smart meters can realise, at an early stage, many of the benefits of smart metering. If you switch supplier and the new supplier cannot operate the meter in smart mode, they will need to operate it as a traditional meter with meter readings taken manually.
Suppliers are expected to start installing second generation smart meters in late 2017. All suppliers will be able to operate second generation meters. This is because the government has appointed a company – the Data and Communications Company (DCC) – to establish a new national infrastructure that will enable communications between smart meters and all energy suppliers.
In time it’s planned that first generation smart meters will be part of the DCC system too. This will give everyone the flexibility to switch between suppliers without losing smart features.
Smart meters in rented property
If you directly pay your energy supplier for the gas or electricity in your rented property, you can choose to have a smart meter installed. However, it is recommended you tell your landlord before you get one. There may be rules in your tenancy agreement about how energy is supplied to the property, including the type of meter that can be installed. If the landlord pays the energy bill for the property, then the decision to get a smart meter is up to them.
If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to alter metering at your property, your landlord or letting agency should not unreasonably prevent it.
Smart meters and your data
You have a choice about how your energy consumption data is used, apart from where it is required for billing and other regulated purposes.
You will be able to see your real-time energy consumption data on your in-home display. You will also be able to download detailed historical data from your home network, should you wish to.
Your energy company, and the energy networks, can access appropriate data to enable them to send you accurate bills and carry out other essential tasks. For example, suppliers can access monthly consumption data for billing purposes.
Suppliers will have to get your consent to access half-hourly data, or to use data for marketing purposes. They can access daily data unless you object.
You will also be able to share data with third parties, such as switching sites, if you want them to give you advice on the best tariff for you.