Do I have to accept a smart meter? - Which? (2023)

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter automatically sends information to your energy provider about how much gas and electricity you use. If you have one, you'll no longer need to manually record your usage.

Energy companies have been asked by the government to take 'all reasonable steps' to install smart meters in homes. But you do have the right to refuse a smart meter if you don’t want one.

If you don't want a smart meter, make this clear to your supplier. It may be able to set up a meter to work in 'dumb' mode, with all communications switched off.

Your energy company may contact you to change your meter to a smart meter. It may tell you your current meter needs replacing because it's too old. If your provider claims there is a safety risk involved, you can ask it to provide evidence of this.

  • Visit our detailedguide on smart metersto find out more about what smart meters can do, how safe they are and whether you could save money using one.

Concerns about smart meters

Here are some of the concerns people have about smart meters:

  • Estimated cost:there is no upfront charge for a smart meter, but the cost of the roll-out is estimated at £11bn. Energy companies are meant to pass on savings to customers but there are concerns about the extent to which they are doing this.
  • Security & privacy: Some people have expressed concerns over who can see their consumption data.
  • Health concerns:fears about radio frequencies and electromagnetic radiation produced have been raised. The evidence to date suggests exposure to radio waves produced by smart meters doesn't pose a risk to your health. Public Health England (PHE) provides advice and information on the health implications of smart meters. This can be found on thePHE website.

What data does my smart meter collect?

Your smart meter records information about how much gas and electricity you’ve used, but it doesn’t store other personal information that could identify you, such as your name, address or bank account.

(Video) You DO NOT have to accept a smart meter

Information about your energy use is protected. There are strict controls on your data, who can access it, and how you choose to share it.

The exception to this is where your data is required for billing, and other regulated purposes. So, you can choose:

  • How often your smart meter sends data to your supplier (monthly is minimum, daily or half-hourly are optional)
  • Whether to share data about your energy use with other organisations, such as price comparison sites
  • If your supplier can use your meter readings for sales and marketing purposes
  • Whether your supplier is allowed to share details about your energy consumption with other organisations
  • How you can access information about your energy to get the most benefit out of it

Your energy supplier will collect meter readings remotely. If you do not make it aware of your preferences, it can collect a daily meter reading.

You will be able to see your near real time energy consumption data on your in-home display. If you want to download more detailed historic data, you can do so from your home network.

Can I switch suppliers with a smart meter?

Yes, you can switch energy suppliers if you have a smart meter.

However, it depends on what type of smart meter you have. If you have a SMETS 2 meter, there shouldn’t be an issue with switching (though always check in advance if it will be possible).

(Video) Consumers Not Happy With Electric Smart Meters

However, if you have an older first-generation smart meter (a SMET 1 meter) this could be a barrier to switching suppliers.

This is because not all first-generation meters connect to the central wireless network, called the Data Communication Company (DCC).

If you have a first-generation smart meter and you want to switch to a supplier that doesn't support your smart meter, you may find that the 'smart' functionality no longer works.

If this happens, you'd have to take manual readings again, like you would if you had a traditional meter.

The DCC is currently in the process of upgrading older meters so those with one can switch suppliers without any problems.

How to get a smart meter

Everyone is entitled to a smart meter if their home is eligible. If you want one, you can either wait for your energy provider to contact you about installing one, or you can contact it to ask. You can also request a smart meter fromSmart Energy GB.

(Video) Why I'm saying no to a smart meter

The deadline for smart meters to be rolled out has been pushed back to 2025. For more information on this, you can read our guide onwhat you need to know about the smart meter roll-out.

key information

Beware rogue traders

  • If you receive a unexpected knock at the door or phone call about making an appointment to install a smart meter, this could be a rogue trader trying to scam you, so make sure you ask for official ID.
  • Your energy supplier will contact you directly about smart meters.
  • It will always be your energy supplier or a third party working on its behalf that will come to your house to change your meter.

Can you get a smart meter in a rented house?

If you are renting a property and you’re paying the gas or electricity bills, you can choose to have a smart meter installed.

Check your tenancy agreement before you commit to getting one, as there might be a restriction in there about how energy is supplied to the property you’re renting. This could include the type of meter that can be installed.

If your landlord pays for the energy bill, the decision on whether to get a smart meter or not will be up to them.

(Video) The Issue With Smart Meters No ONE Is Talking About

Do I need my landlord's permission to install a smart meter?

If your tenancy agreement says you need permission to alter the meter, you should contact your landlord first.

Your landlord or letting agency shouldn’t unreasonably stop you from getting a smart meter.

Do I need to tell my landlord about my smart meter?

It’s a good idea to tell your landlord before you get a smart meter installed, even if your tenancy agreement doesn’t say you need to.

Your rights around the smart meter installation process

Before you are supplied with a smart meter, your energy supplier should contact you to arrange a time and date that suits you.

It should also tell you:

  • What to expect
  • How long the installation will take
  • If there are any steps you need to do before the installation

There are also a number of protections you should have as part of your smart meter installation. These include the following:

(Video) Why I Regret Having a Smart Meter Fitted & Be Careful of Energy Comparison Sites

  • There must be no sales during the installation visit and installers must provide energy efficiency advice as part of the visit.
  • The installer should talk to you about how to use your smart meter, as well as provide advice on important safety issues, such as how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Your smart meter installer will need your permission in advance of the visit if they intend to talk about their own products.
  • If your installer tries to upsell you, or fails to provide energy efficiency advice as part of the visit, they are in breach of these rules and you should notify your energy supplier.
  • You will have a choice about how your energy consumption data is used, apart from where it is required for billing and other regulated purposes.

Your rights if something goes wrong

If your bill changes dramatically, you get a bill you weren’t expecting, or your smart meter shows an error message, there may be a problem.

If you feel your smart meter is faulty or is not registering your data correctly, contact your supplier. It is responsible for making sure your meter works properly and should send someone round to take a look at the problem.


Do I have to accept a smart meter? - Which? ›

You don't actually have to accept a smart meter, but opting out costs extra.

Why am I being asked to read my smart meter? ›

Smart meters normally send readings to your supplier automatically - this is known as 'smart mode'. You can check if your meter's working in smart mode. You might need to read your smart meter in some situations, for example if: you've just switched supplier - you normally need to send the first meter reading yourself.

Why should I opt out of a smart meter? ›

Health and Environment – Smart Meters emit 10,000 to 190,000 bursts of possibly carcinogenic, RF microwave radiation into homes 24 hours a day. People are complaining of headaches, ringing in the ears, rashes, nausea, insomnia chest pressure, heart palpitations, nose bleeds, and weakness, etc.

Is there a downside to having a smart meter? ›

Although smart meters can help you keep track of your energy use, they could also drive up anxiety with elderly or low-income households if they're constantly reminded of what they're spending. This could lead to people depriving themselves of adequate heating or lights.

Can I ask for smart meter to be removed? ›

Although you can simply refuse a Smart Meter when offered, you cannot refuse one if your existing meter is faulty or has reached the end of its certified life. In these circumstances some suppliers may have some stocks of traditional meters left which they could offer you if they wish.

Should I say no to smart meters? ›

How can I refuse a smart meter? Smart meters are not mandatory and you have the right to refuse one if you wish. However, if your current meter is too old, it can be a safety hazard to not get it replaced. Speak to your energy supplier about your concerns if this is the case.

Should I opt for a smart meter? ›

Why should I get a smart meter? The main benefit of getting a smart meter is that you'll no longer need to take manual readings for your gas and electricity. With a smart meter, all that data is sent to your supplier automatically, providing them with accurate readings, so you can say goodbye to estimated bills.

What states have banned smart meters? ›

State Smart Meter Opt-Out Policies
  • Arizona. Opt-out programs vary among participating utilities. ...
  • Illinois. The Illinois Commerce Commission currently allows Ameren and Commonwealth Edison customers to opt out for a roughly $20 monthly charge. ...
  • Kentucky. ...
  • Maine. ...
  • Missouri. ...
  • Nevada. ...
  • Ohio. ...
  • Oregon.
Aug 20, 2019

What happens if I unplug my smart meter? ›

You can unplug and store the device without impacting the connection of your smart meters. As the smart meters use the Wide Area Network (WAN) to send us your meter readings, they'll be unaffected by the function of any IHD.

Do smart meters use a lot of electricity? ›

Your in-home display – the small touchscreen device that shows your home energy use – is powered by your electricity supply. It uses a very small amount of energy and costs between 70p and £1 a year to run. In fact, smart meters usually save you money.

Can you trust smart meters? ›

Yes, it's worth getting a smart meter. You'll receive free, live information about your energy usage, enabling you to make changes and cut your bills. You'll also never have to take a manual reading again. Instead, you can rest safe in the knowledge that your readings are accurate and timely.

Why do smart meters have a bad reputation? ›

One of the main reasons smart meters get a bad rap is from the first-generation smart meters which lost functionality when customers switched energy tariffs. In these cases, the IHD would stop working and become 'dumb' which meant customers still needed to give manual meter readings.

Can you be cut off remotely with a smart meter? ›

If you have a 'smart meter'

If you have a smart energy meter in your home, your supplier could potentially disconnect your supply remotely without needing access to your meter. However, before they do this, they must have: contacted you to discuss options for repaying your debt, eg through a repayment plan.

How do I cancel my smart meter? ›

Go to Smart meters in MyAccount to change or cancel your smart meter installation appointment. You can reschedule your appointment up to 48 hours in advance, or cancel it up to an hour before. If you can't use MyAccount for any reason, please call us on 0333 200 5104(1).

Are old meters removed when smart meters installed? ›

Smart meters directly replace your existing meters for gas and electricity. As part of the installation, the engineer will need to turn off your gas and electricity for around 20 minutes each.

Should I have a smart meter 2023? ›

Smart meters can help you to save money because they display your energy usage and the cost of this usage clearly on the screen. You don't have to wait for an energy reading to find out the cost of the energy you are using – cooking, TV, lights, heating water, charging devices or playing games and music, for example.

Does a smart meter need wifi? ›

Smart meters use an entirely separate, bespoke wireless system. You don't need Wi-Fi in your home for it to work and it won't use your Wi-Fi if you have it. Your smart meter and in-home display communicate via a secure national network which is solely for smart meters.

Do smart meters use less electricity? ›

A smart meter supports you with reducing your energy consumption. When you can see and understand how you're using energy, it helps you manage that. That means lower bills for you and a lower carbon footprint too.

Can I turn my smart meter off at night? ›

You cannot turn off the smart meter itself at any time, but you are not charged for the electricity it takes from the supply in order to run. The Smart Energy Display that comes with your smart meter is optional to use, and so you can unplug it at any time.

Will I benefit from a smart meter? ›

With a smart meter you can wave goodbye to inaccurate energy bills. The smart meter shows a digital meter reading and uses a secure smart data network to automatically and wirelessly send the readings to your energy supplier at least once a month, so you will receive accurate, not estimated bills.

Why is my smart meter showing gas usage when not used? ›

Wondering why the energy use and spend on your in-home display goes up when you don't think you're using any gas or electricity? Here's the answer: You pay a standing charge for your electricity and gas every day; this is the daily fee you pay to maintain your energy supply.

How often does a smart meter send readings? ›

Setting your smart meter readings to every half an hour gives you the most accurate picture of your energy use. It helps you spot where you might be able to save energy – and cut your energy bills.

What is the difference between a smart meter and a regular meter? ›

A smart meter tells you how much gas and electricity you've used, just like a normal meter. The difference is that a smart meter sends your energy information to your supplier. This is automatic and uses a secure network.

Where is a smart meter installed? ›

These smart meters normally go exactly where your old meters were. If they need to be fitted nearby, the installer will ask you first.

Can smart meters be hacked? ›

Electrical substation. With power grids being increasingly targeted by domestic extremists in the U.S., researchers at Oregon State University are warning that a basic utility device can be corrupted.

Are smart meters a cyber security risk? ›

However, smart metering systems also pose significant cybersecurity risks, as they can be targeted by hackers, malicious insiders, or state actors to disrupt the power grid, steal sensitive information, or manipulate billing and pricing.

Will a magnet stop a smart meter? ›

If the electricity meter uses a current transformer (CT) current sensor, the placement of a magnet could reduce the current reading and thus reduce the sensed active power.

Should you leave your smart meter on all the time? ›

We recommend that you always leave your in-home display plugged in to the electricity mains and fully charged. The built-in battery can last for up to four hours, so you can unplug it for a short while if you need to.

Why is my smart meter reading different to my bill? ›

My energy use and rates shown on my in-home display are different to my bill – why is that? The figures you see on your in-home display and bills both come directly from your smart meter. But there are a few reasons why they look a bit different: Your in-home display and bills cover different time periods.

What is a dumb smart meter? ›

If you decide to opt out, your supplier will probably still swap your meter for a new model, but they can put it into 'dumb' mode. This means the meter's 'smart' functionality is turned off so it will not transmit readings automatically and will need to be read in the old way.

Are smart meters mandatory? ›

Smart meters are not mandatory and billpayers can refuse to have the devices installed, and you can do this indefinitely. However, energy companies can force customers to replace their current meter if it is deemed a safety hazard or is no longer functioning correctly.

Can I see my smart meter on my phone? ›

SmartThings Energy Control (STEC) is an app that shows live information from your smart meter. This guide explains how pair your In-Home Display (IHD) with the STEC app, so you can access your energy data from your smartphone or tablet.

Is a smart meter half hourly or daily? ›

To see the most detail about your usage in the Bulb app, we recommend your smart meter takes readings every half hour. When we install your smart meter, or switch your meter from another supplier, we'll set your meter reading frequency for you.

Can smart meters control your thermostat? ›

So can you control your heating with a smart meter? The answer is a resounding yes. But there are other options available to you as well if you do not want to install a smart thermostat.

How do I opt out of Xcel smart meter? ›

To opt-out of receiving a smart meter, residential customers can call 800-895-4999. Commercial customers can call 800-481-4700. A customer service representative will log a request to install a non- communicating meter instead of a smart meter at your service address.

How much does a smart meter cost? ›

What does a smart meter cost? There is no up-front cost for a smart meter – instead the price of the whole smart meter programme is absorbed into everyone's energy bills. The real-time display should theoretically even lead to cost savings, as research suggests that people who monitor their energy consumption use less.

What are peoples opinions of smart meters? ›

80% say they have a better idea of what they're spending on energy. 68% say they're more conscious about energy use. 49% say it's helping them save money. 47% say they're less worried about their bills.

What data does a smart meter collect? ›

Your smart meter will record the details of your consumption of electricity. ESB Networks will collect data on the total amount of electricity consumed over the previous 24-hour period daily for Interval (30 minute) Smart Services activated meters.

Why is a smart meter a Trojan horse? ›

As all touchpoints between the internet and our household can be a security vulnerability if they lack proper defenses, smart meters can become Trojan horses that open the door to malevolent hackers without us even noticing it.

How far away can a smart meter be? ›

When they're more than 10 metres (32 feet) apart, the gas meter won't be able to communicate with Bulb or the smart network.

What powers a smart meter? ›

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.

Why are people getting rid of smart meters? ›

Information Privacy: Some campaigns suggest that the data collected from Smart Meters could be used for unauthorised purposes. Most data collected will be for meter readings, a Smart Meter can collect meters readings frequently, say every 30 minutes, for sending back to your energy supplier.

Why am I being asked for meter readings when I have a smart meter? ›

If you have smart meters and we've asked you to provide meter readings, it's because we're unable to take automated reads. Some first-generation smart meters are not compatible with all energy suppliers, so they can't send reads. This is a temporary issue – we'll upgrade your smart meters remotely as soon as possible.

Can I change a smart meter back to a normal meter? ›

Unfortunately, it's not usually possible to downgrade from a smart meter back to a traditional meter, except in very specific exceptional circumstances. Even in those cases, downgrading is extremely expensive and not usually worth the cost.

Can I change from a smart meter? ›

Once you've got smart meters, you'll still be free to switch to a new energy supplier, but not all suppliers support smart meters just yet. If that's the case, your smart meters will work like traditional ones until your new supplier can support them and you may need to provide manual meter readings.

How often do smart meters send readings? ›

Setting your smart meter readings to every half an hour gives you the most accurate picture of your energy use. It helps you spot where you might be able to save energy – and cut your energy bills.

Why do I have to read my meter? ›

Your meter reading will help us provide you an accurate bill. We use meter readings to bill you for the actual amount of electricity you use (instead of estimating). Outside of self-read areas, most meters are scheduled to be read every second month.

Why do you need to submit meter readings? ›

As well as making your bills more accurate, regular meter readings give us a clear picture of your energy use over time, which makes our forecasts of your payments and energy costs much more accurate as well.

Do I have to submit a meter reading? ›

Unless you have a smart meter, you should submit a meter reading when your supplier asks for one. This will normally be a few days before your bill is due every month.

Do smart meters give a true reading? ›

Yes! With a smart meter, you'll receive accurate, not estimated bills – meaning you only pay for the energy you use. Smart meters use a secure smart data network to automatically send your meter reading to your energy supplier.

Do smart meters automatically submit readings? ›

You won't have to take any meter readings manually - your smart meter will send automatic readings to your energy supplier via the secure smart data network which is solely for smart meters.

Does smart meter automatically send readings? ›

You don't normally need to take any readings with a smart meter, it will do that automatically. But if you want them for your own peace of mind, you can still get them.

What happens if I dont take my meter reading? ›

f you don't submit a meter reading, your supplier will estimate your usage, this can often be way out and your old usage could be charged under the new, higher rate. Don't rely on your smart meter either, if you have one. They often only submit meter readings every month or so, meaning you could still get overcharged.

Can I exaggerate my meter reading? ›

"Tampering with the meter is effectively cheating the meter as it gives false results so that you pay less (or nothing) for gas usage." The same can apply to electric meters and giving false readings could result in a fine or even imprisonment.

Can a magnet stop a meter reading? ›

If the electricity meter uses a current transformer (CT) current sensor, the placement of a magnet could reduce the current reading and thus reduce the sensed active power.

Why do I need to send meter readings when I have a smart meter bulb? ›

Meter readings let us know how much energy you've used. If you have a regular meter, or a smart meter we can't read, we need you to submit those readings. When you don't submit a meter reading, we use an estimated reading. These are based on past readings from the property.

Why is meter reading too high? ›

An increase in your energy usage can cause your electricity bill to be higher than normal. Try and find your meter readings from the last few months. These could be on recent bills or stored in your online energy account. You will need both the readings and the dates on which they were taken.

Who has to do a meter reading? ›

Your supplier needs regular readings from your gas or electricity meter to work out your bills. If you don't send them readings, they'll estimate your usage. This means your bill might be too high or low. Call your supplier to give them the readings - or check if you can submit one on their website or app.

How do I submit my meter readings to so energy? ›

The easiest way to submit a reading to So Energy is to log in to your online account. That's where you can submit all your up-to-date meter reads. If you've forgotten your password to your online account, you can click 'forgot password' and within minutes be logged in where you're able to submit a meter read.

How do I know if I have a smart meter? ›

If your energy supplier has told you that you don't need to send them meter readings anymore because they are receiving automated readings, then you have a smart meter. If you're a prepay customer with a smart meter, you should be able to top up your credit online.

What is the estimated meter reading? ›

If you notice your energy bill states that you've had an estimated meter reading, it means your energy provider has charged you based on an estimated amount rather than an actual meter reading.


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