When Is a Smart Meter Not a Smart Meter?

Smart meters have a number of advantages. They send in their own readings, so you’ll never get an estimated bill ever again, and they are connected to a monitoring device so that you can see how much energy you are using at a particular moment.

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Smart meters are currently being rolled out across the country with the intention that they will become standard by the end of 2020. However, they are not without problems, especially if you decide to switch energy supplier.

Less Smart

If your gas meter box contains a smart meter, there is a good chance that if you decide to switch your energy supplier it will cease to work in smart mode, and you will have to revert to normal meter readings.

Almost 20 per cent of consumers find that their smart meter stops working when they switch suppliers. And almost 30 per cent report that both the meter and the energy monitor stop working, so that’s nearly half of people that have had problems when switching. The National Audit Office reckons that over 900,000 smart meters are no longer working correctly.

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Not getting readings sent automatically isn’t a problem if your house’s builder has used a gas meter box supplier so that the meter is accessible from outside. But there are other issues: some energy companies offer different tariffs for smart meter customers, and if your meter isn’t working in smart mode, you won’t be able to access them.

Why Is There a Problem?

The issue is that there are two different generations of smart meter. Early adopters of the technology will have received a first-generation meter. Second-generation meters are connected to a central wireless network used by all energy suppliers, whereas first-generation meters use different networks which may be unique to particular suppliers.

So what’s being done? First-generation meters should start to be connected to the new network from 2019, which means that all suppliers will be able to access their data. Any that can’t use the new network – mainly those made by the Secure brand – will be replaced by the end of 2020.

If you intend to switch supplier in the next year or so, check to see if your meter is compatible with your new supplier.