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How Do Smart Meters Work?

by Tom Grant on Jan 30, 2019

Smart meters are being rolled out across the whole of Britain, with the government aiming for every household to have been offered one by 2020. But what even is a smart meter, how do they work, and what are the benefits? In this article we’ll give you the low down and clue you up so you know whether getting a smart meter will help you on your quest to get the cheapest energy deals.

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are the latest development in the gas and energy sector. They give households real-time energy usage information with an in-home display showing kWh use, and even cost. These new meters use a secure network nationally to automatically submit your energy usage information directly to your supplier

So the days of ‘estimated’ bills for domestic energy are on the way out, and households will no longer have to go through the process of submitting their own meter readings on a regular basis.

And it’s about time too, the technology currently used was developed decades ago and the whole sector was long overdue an upgrade.

What are the benefits of having a smart meter?

There are several benefits of having a smart meter installed in your home. Some are more obvious than others.

More accurate bills. For a start, you’ll be getting far more accurate bills as your energy usage is monitored in real-time. This means you’ll hopefully be paying only for what you actually used, and not what your supplier ‘estimated’ that you used based on sporadic meter readings. It also means some of us won’t have to let a stranger into our homes to read our meters every once in a while, which is always a bonus.

Understand your usage. Another key benefit of having a smart meter is that you’ll get a much better understanding of the extent to which energy usage affects your bill. Those who’ve already adopted the new technology are reporting that knowing how much energy (and money) it costs to boil the kettle is helping them change their habits in order to save more money on their energy bills. This information also becomes particularly useful if you ever want to compare energy suppliers and change provider, as your knowledge of how much you actually use will help you figure out if you’d be better off elsewhere on a different energy tariff.

Better deals. This information of how your energy usage breaks down isn’t just helpful for you, but it’s also helpful for your supplier. This information will help you modify your lifestyle in order to make savings, but also helps your supplier make innovations in the types of deals that they offer - which can only mean even more savings for you down the line.

Are smart meters safe?

The safety of smart meters has been confirmed by several different independent agencies. Public Health England explain that despite your smart meter emitting low frequency emissions, your microwave or TV will give you more exposure to these kind of emissions than a smart meter.

EU and UK safety legislation requires smart meters to undergo rigorous testing, with Smart Energy GB explaining that the smart meters used in the UK far exceed every safety standard it’s required to pass.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also explain that all smart meters are subject to the same safety regulations as mobile phones, baby monitors and any other household technological device, and thus are just as safe as they are.

How do I get one and how much does it cost?

You’ll need to contact your energy supplier as they will be the ones who arrange for your household to be fitted with a smart meter. Ofgem, the regulator of gas and electricity markets, has developed a code of practice which will protect you from sales attempts during installation, and will also ensure that the workings of the smart meter and its data are fully explained to you.

Getting a smart meter installed will cost you nothing directly as smart meters are being installed by energy suppliers. The rollout costs being included in your energy bill just like with traditional meters.



Tom Grant

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