Are smart meters really that smart?


You may have seen the ads on TV by now and even done some of your own research. Energy suppliers being able to read meters remotely, and you being able to track your usage in pounds and pence on an in-home device. So, what exactly is a smart meter? How do they work? And when will we be rolling them out to you?


What are smart meters?

Smart meters are an initiative by the British Government, their roll out is part of a plan to upgrade and digitalise Britain’s energy supply, bringing us a step closer to a smart grid, and ultimately helping to tackle climate change. By 2020 the government aims to have smart meters in every home in England, Wales, and Scotland (which means smart meters in more than 26 million homes!).

Smart meters measure both electricity and gas usage, letting you monitor your usage in pounds and pence, as well as digitally (and automatically!) sending meter readings to your energy supplier. Energy suppliers can also access your smart meter to change the details of your tariff and switch your meter between different modes, but don’t worry they won’t do this without consulting you first. Smart meters are also important as they are one of the first steps in the digitalisation of the energy industry in the UK, you can read more about this below.


How do smart meters work?

When you first get your smart meters installed, you’ll have the option of a nifty little device called an 'In-home display' (also known as an IHD). The IHD is a small, battery operated device that keeps you up to date with your energy usage. It monitors your usage digitally, showing you how much energy you’re using, what your usage costs and how much CO2 your house is producing. The whole thing is tied together nicely with another clever little gadget called a 'communications hub' which allows your smart meter to talk to your IHD and your energy supplier.

Ultimately smart meters are there to help you as much as they are to help us. They will cut down on those little jobs like submitting your readings and most importantly help avoid nasty surprises with your bills.


Will they help me save money?

Just having a smart meter installed won’t necessarily save you money, but it will monitor your usage, giving you all the tools you need to track how much you are spending. Back in 2016 the government issued a cost-benefit report on smart meters (Gov Report 2016) where they forecast a saving of £26 on an annual dual fuel bill, last month MPs came out and revised this number down to £11.



Digitalisation and the smart grid

Smart meters are one of the first steps in the digitalisation of energy infrastructure in the UK, bringing us closer to what is known as a smart grid. This is one of the reasons that the government has been campaigning so hard for smart meters.

A smart grid is a modern way of running our energy networks, working like an internet system but for electricity and gas! Smart grids should help solve issues that currently plague the industry – primarily matching supply and demand in a more efficient manner, but they should also promote the uptake of green energy, and create a more honest and transparent industry for all.


When will we be rolling smart meters out?

Okay, so if smart meters are so great, why aren’t we rolling them out just yet? Smart meters are great! And we do believe that they have many benefits. We’re all for digitalisation, and a smart grid, but at So Energy we’re also all about honesty, we’re looking forward to the future of smart energy but we believe that smart meters aren’t quite there yet.

Currently, smart meters are in the first generation stage (SMETS 1 meters). First generation smart meters can only be remotely read by the energy supplier who installed them. So, if we’ve rolled out the first generation smart meters, and you decided to switch away, your new supplier wouldn’t be able to digitally read your meters. We don’t think it would be fair that you would feel the need to stay with us just because we installed a smart meter for you. Second generation smart meters (SMETS 2 meters) will combat this issue, and give you the freedom to switch to the supplier of your choice, whilst allowing them to read your smart meter digitally and remotely for you. This will promote a smart future for us all! We expect SMETS 2 meters to be more widely rolled out from June 2019 onwards.

We’ll let you know as soon as we start rolling out smart meters – but, in the meantime, if you want to learn more about smart meters, then you can do here: www.smartenergygb.org. Alternatively get in touch with us and we will do our best to answer your questions. Or check out our FAQ here: What is a smart meter, and can I get one?

Already have a smart meter and want to switch to So Energy? You can do that too! (You might still have to read your meter like a traditional meter!)


Do I have to have a smart meter?

The smart meter program is currently voluntary, so if you don’t want one, you don’t have to have one. Simple as that!





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