What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is a new kind of gas and electricity meter that allows you to monitor your energy consumption in real time. It uses a secure national communications network provided by the ‘Data Communications Company’ (DCC) to send your real time consumption securely to your energy supplier via a wifi adapter that also allows you to view your consumption in pounds and pence through a portable display screen that you can locate as you wish.
How does it work?
There are three main components to the smart meter system:
Two new meters: one gas and one electricity to replace your old ones.
A wifi adapter that connects to the meters and your portable in-house display.
An easy to read in-home display that allows you to check your reading from wherever you wish in your house.
As previously mentioned, your new meters will connect to the wifi adapter. This will automatically send your real time usage to your energy supplier. You will also be able to view this usage on your new portable in-home display screen that will show your usage in pounds and pence wherever you wish in the house. This screen should look a little like the illustration below:
It will allow you to see how much you are using per hour and how much your are using in relation to your budget that you can set according to your desired usage. The above example may not be an exact representation of the smart meter you will receive; however, it should work on the same principal.
How much do they cost?
Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. If your supplier hasn’t already offered you one (or even if they have) you can give your supplier a call and request a new free smart meter. Installation will also be free of charge. It is hoped that by 2020, every home in the UK will have been installed with a smart meter thus putting an end to unexpected figures and estimated readings.
What are the benefits of having one?
Smart meters have the ability to give confidence to those who are scared that they are using too much energy and limit those who do use too much. Monitoring in real time allows you to identify the items that really bump up your bill.
This eliminates the need for submitting readings or having someone to come to your house to do it.
Because your usage data is so easily transmittable, this will make it much easier and quicker to switch energy supplier.
Its free, so why not?
What happens if I want to switch companies?
Don’t worry, OFGEM have created regulations that ensure that no obstacle will face you should you wish to change. Even if you have been installed with a smart meter from your current energy company(s) this does not mean that you have to stay with them for life.
If you switch supplier and they do not support smart meter technology at the present time, your meter will switch to ‘dumb’ mode. However, this is only temporary until the company becomes smart meter-ready. Dumb mode will still be compatible with your home display reader device, meaning you will still be able to see your real time usage; however, it will not calculate this into pounds and pence, meaning you would have to do that yourself.