What is a smart meter and how does it work?

A smart meter measures your gas or electricity use, just like a traditional meter. But unlike a traditional meter, a smart meter sends its readings to your supplier automatically.

Once your smart meters are installed, you won’t need to read your gas and electricity meters any more. We’ll have all the information we need to produce accurate statements. No more estimated bills. 

And that’s not all. Smart meters also come with an In-Home Display (IHD), meaning you can keep an eye on your usage and contribute to a smarter, greener grid for the UK at the same time.

A photo of a smart gas meter and an In-Home Display

The photo on the left is a smart gas meter. Smart meters directly replace your existing meters. The photo on the right is an In-Home Display. You can keep your In-Home Display somewhere you can easily see it, to get a better idea of how much energy you're using.

Smart meters put you in control

  • Say goodbye to manual meter readings – no more scrabbling around to find that torch. Your smart meter will send us readings automatically.
  • Get more accurate bills – automatic meter readings mean we won’t need to estimate your bills, so they’ll reflect exactly the energy you use.
  • Keep track of your spending – see what your energy costs in pounds and pence and set a daily, weekly or monthly budget.
  • Monitor how much energy you’re using – find out which appliances cost the most to run and make small tweaks to your lifestyle to save on bills
  • Help make energy greener – by combining information from smart meters with information about the weather, grid operators can make the most of energy generated through solar, wind and hydro, making the national grid less reliant on fossil and nuclear sources.
  • Do your bit to cut carbon emissions – smart meters help us forecast demand and make smarter decisions when buying your energy. That’s good for the planet, but it’s also cheaper for you.

How smart meters work

Smart meters work differently, depending on whether they’re measuring your electricity or gas. A smart electricity meter is connected to the mains, and monitors how much power you're using in real time.

A smart gas meter, on the other hand, is battery-powered and 'asleep' most of the time. It wakes up every half an hour to send a reading via the electricity meter.

The smart electricity meter connects to a nationwide secure smart network, similar to a mobile phone network. It's called the DCC, as it's run by the Data and Communications Company. The DCC then sends information about how much gas and electricity you’ve used directly to your energy supplier. That’s us, if you’re one of our members.

Your smart meter also sends the same information to the In-Home Display (IHD) in your home, so you can monitor your energy usage in real-time and manage how much gas and electricity you use.

We’ll install your smart meter for free

We’re currently installing smart meters for all our members, as part of a government initiative to upgrade the UK’s energy grid by the end of 2020.

Look out for an email from us about booking your installation. To make sure everything goes smoothly, we’re starting by inviting people who live in areas where the network is strongest. Certain types of meter and an accessible setup make installation easier too.

We’ve written a guide on what to expect from an installation, but in short, smart meters directly replace your existing gas and electricity meters. During installation, your old meters will be removed so smart meters can take their place.

Our smart meters are second generation (also known as ‘SMETS2’) meters, which means they’ll stay smart even if you switch supplier.

Find answers to the most common questions about smart meters

Smart meters are still quite new, so you're likely to have a few questions. To make life easier, you can find the answers to common smart meter questions in one place.

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