What are smart meters

Smart Meters are being rolled out up and down the country in an attempt to encourage everyone to think more carefully about how we consume energy in our homes. While they are not compulsory, they are seen as an important part of our journey to net zero, helping households learn how to be eco friendly. Every home in Britain should be offered a smart meter by their energy supplier by June 2025.

But what are Smart Meters and how do they achieve this? Well, simply put, they measure how much electricity and gas you are using and how much it is costing you. This information is displayed on an In-Home Display. This next generation of energy meter eliminates the need for readings to be submitted manually to your energy supplier.

There’s no more scrabbling about under the stairs to see what the meter says or racking your brain to try and remember how to read an old electric meter as it now sends the data on your energy usage directly to your energy supplier via GSM signals. Much like your mobile phone, a good signal needs to be found for Smart Meters to work efficiently. The information is sent over a secure national network called the DCC.

Smart Meters show your energy usage on the In-Home Display (IHD) in the format of both kWh & £/p – so you can see your energy usage in real time. If you plug in an electrical item or start cooking on a gas stove, you’ll be able to see exactly how much energy that uses up so you can keep an eye on your consumption and how that translates into pounds and pence.

All this means you’ll no longer have to rely on estimated bills as the meter now does it all for you.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Smart Meter?

• Greater Accuracy on Bills: With the data sent directly to your energy supplier, they can charge you for your exact energy consumption without relying on manual readings, which can be liable to human error, or estimated bills.

• A Clearer View of Your Energy Consumption: With the IHD showing you exactly what your energy usage is and how and when it goes up and down, you can make smarter, money saving decisions on how to save electricity at home, thus helping lower your carbon footprint too.

• A Step Towards Upgrading Britain’s Energy Infrastructure: The rollout of Smart Meters is a step towards Britain creating a smart grid. The idea is to provide low-carbon energy to households and businesses across the nation with ease and efficiency. The increased accuracy of meter readings plays a vital role in this.

Girl watching TV in smart home

How Do Smart Meters Save Energy?

Well, practically speaking – they don’t! You aren’t going to save energy just by having a Smart Meter, but it can guide you on how to be more sustainable in your energy consumption habits. By being able to see just how much your electricity and gas is costing you, you can start to consider alternatives. For example, if you can see how much your energy usage increases (along with the related cost) when you switch on the washing machine, you may want to consider a shorter cycle – or indeed encourage family members to wear clothes more than once before throwing them into the dirty laundry pile.

For those who are already energy conscious, by just taking note of what your Smart Meter is telling you, you can start to pinpoint times of the day when your energy use is at its peak and begin to identify why that is. When you can see exactly how much energy making a cup of tea takes or watching television uses, you can begin to change small habits to start making a big difference.

Can Smart Meters Help You Save On Your Bills?

Again, having a smart meter in the home doesn’t inherently save you money – but by having the data in front of you, you can start to identify which habits and appliances cost you the most and you can address these instantly and start to manage your household bills accordingly. In the case of GEUK, the customer service team offer free, independent, impartial advice on how to save energy. You can contact our customer service team if you’re looking for a little help in that area. Or you can read our blog full of energy saving tips for the Winter months > and this one full of tips for saving energy in the Summer >

If changing how and when you consume energy comes naturally to your household, then you could consider taking things a step further by choosing a Time of Use tariff like our TIDE tariff >. The principle is simple; rather than just having one (or possibly two) rate(s) for each kWh of electricity you consume, your Smart Meter gives you access to at least three different rates depending on the time of day you use energy. Typically, the lowest rates will be overnight – so if you have an Electric Car, this could help you manage your energy bills by charging your car while you sleep.

electric car charging

But it’s worth remembering that the highest rates will be when most energy users want to use energy, i.e., between 4pm and 8pm when many people are cooking their dinner.

Avoiding these peak times will not only help you save money on your bill, but also help to reduce the pressure on the UK’s energy infrastructure, thus making more efficient use of the renewable energy being generated – rather than having to fire up those dirty, fossil fuel plants.