We are gradually compiling a list of questions we have been asked on smart meters through our talks and workshops
Can I have a smart meter if I'm on Economy 7? Yes you can but some companies have said that smart meters are not yet suitable to households that have storage heaters.
Can I have a smart meter if I have prepayment meters? Yes and they will make it easier to top-up - you will for example be able to go online to top-up or do it over the phone so you don't always have to go to the shop. Smart meters will eventually make it easier to switch between paying as a prepayment customer and as a credit customer. The in-house display will give you information to show you how much credit you have left.
I requested one but they told me I can't have one yet even though my neighbour has had one. Each energy company will have different plans and timescales in terms of installing smart meters and some have started earlier than others and some just won't have reached certain parts of the country yet. The best thing to do is to register your interest with your supplier so they can contact you when they start rolling the meters out in your area. If you want to find out more information from your supplier then visit this website and click on the name of your own supplier.
They came out to fit a smart meter but told me that the signal in my area isn't good enough. At the moment smart meters do rely on mobile phone technology so we have found several people who have not been able to have one fitted due to poor signal in the area. Ultimately however smart meters will run through a new secure communications network so it will not matter how good your mobile signal is. This is not up and running just yet though.
Does a house have to have wi-fi in order to have smart meters fitted? No, smart meters do not require an internet connection. Currently they rely on mobile phone technology but eventually they will run through a communications network so it does not matter what technology you have in your home.
I have had a smart meter fitted and was told that if I now want to change supplier then the new company will have to come out and fit new smart meters. Having a smart meter does not prevent you from switching energy supplier but if the new company does not yet support smart meters then you are likely to lose all of the functionality of those smart meters. Even with companies that do use smart meters there may still be technical issues. The best thing to do is to talk to the new company and discuss whether or not the meters will be compatible.
How do they work with solar panels? They will work the same as with every household. The smart meter will show you how much electricity you are using from the grid and how much that is costing you (via the in-house display). It will not however be able to show you how much electricity you are generating from your solar panels (this may be possible however at a later date).
Do people have to have them as I would be concerned that people like my Mum may worry if they see it whizzing around and turn their heating off. Smart meters are not compulsory so you do not have to have one. However, there are benefits to vulnerable households as they will put an end to estimated energy bills and no-one will have to come to read the meter anymore. This is beneficial to people who are not comfortable about letting people into their home or who cannot read the meter themselves if, for example, it is in a very inaccesible place. In this case you could have a smart meter fitted but choose not to use the in-house display.
I have two different companies for gas and electricity, will I get two different smart meters? You will get two new meters but just one in-house display. This will be set-up by whichever company installs a smart meter first and then when the second company comes out they will link up their meter to the same in-house display.
Do I need to ask my landlord if I want to have a smart meter? No, if your name is on the bills at the property then you can ask to have a smart meter fitted. We'd suggest letting the landlord know out of courtesy but it is up to you.