What is a smart meter and how do they work?

The government wants a smart meter installed in every home and business in the country by 2020. In this article we’ll tackle some of the most common questions & concerns about smart meters, including; what are smart meters? How do smart meters work? How much do they cost? How are they fitted? And are they worth it?

Smart meters explained

Smart meters are designed to replace old, traditional gas & electricity meters. Smart meters communicate directly with your energy supplier, transmitting regular, accurate meter readings. This means no more climbing into your cupboard in order to give your supplier a manual reading. It also puts an end to inaccurate energy bills based on estimated usage.

Smart meters usually come bundled with an in-home device (IHD). Also known as an energy monitor, the IHD has a screen that displays how much gas and electricity you are using in near real-time. Seeing your energy usage and spending can help you adjust your lifestyle and save energy & money.

Smart meter diagram
A typical smart meter set-up for a dual fuel customer.

What does a smart meter look like?

The actual smart meter – the unit that’s usually tucked away in a cupboard or a corner – looks similar to a traditional electricity or gas meter. However when most people mention a ‘smart meter’, they’re actually referring to the in-home device – this is a sleek, small display that sits on a shelf or table top and displays your energy usage. It’s fairly small and discreet – perhaps a little larger and bulkier than an average mobile phone.

What does a smart meter look like?

How much does a smart meter cost?

Nothing! Your smart meter will be installed for free. If you switch over to Eversmart, you will receive a free smart meter fitted by a trained engineer plus a free home safety test. You can find out more about switching to us here and more about our smart meters here.

What are the benefits of having a smart meter?

There are two very big benefits of having a smart meter installed. The first is that your energy bills will no longer be estimated and you will only pay for the actual amount of gas and electricity you use. The second is having visibility of your live usage. The IHD displays your kWh usage and the amount you are spending. This is especially useful if you are a pre-payment customer, as the smart meter will tell you how much credit you have left.

We have listed a few more benefits below:

  • More accurate bills
     
  • No need to submit manual meter readings
     
  • Improved service – As energy suppliers get a better understanding of their customer’s energy usage and habits, they can offer better tariffs.
     
  • Remote topping-up – Pre-payment customers with a smart meter can top-up online or over the phone. No more walking to the shops just to top up your gas and electric!
     
  • Save energy and money – If you can see how much energy you are using and when you are using the most, it’s easier to make smart choices and lifestyle changes that will reduce your usage, bring down your bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
     
  • Helping to create the “smart grid” – The more people that have smart meters, the more energy suppliers can plan ahead and supply energy more efficiently. This saves money for both the suppliers and their customers.
     

Some other frequently asked questions:

How do smart meters transmit data?

Smart meters from Eversmart come with a mobile SIM card that transmits your usage data. It can also receive messages and updates. The SIM is completely free and you do not need to pay a monthly bill or any other fees for using it.

The SIM can roam between several networks, so there’s no need to worry about whether it will get a signal.

Do smart meters need the internet to work?

No. The smart meter uses a SIM card to communicate with the energy supplier. The smart meter also connects wirelessly with the IHD (it doesn’t use your Wi-Fi, as some people believe).

Are they safe?

There have been rumours and conspiracy theories floating around that smart meters are somehow harmful to your health. We can tell you that smart meters are subject to the same safety regulations and rigorous testing as other consumer technology products, as required by UK and EU law.

Smart meters do emit low-level radio frequencies, as do many consumer electrical products. Public Health England (formerly The Health Protection Agency) say that the evidence suggests the radio waves produced by smart meters do not pose a risk to health. The government has published a very detailed report on smart meters & health, which you can read here.

How are smart meters powered?

The smart meter is powered directly by your home’s power supply. Your IHD from Eversmart can be plugged in or powered by batteries. Note that if you turn off the IHD, the smart meter will continue working and transmitting data as usual.

Who will install my smart meter?

Your smart meter will be fitted and tested by a trained engineer.

How long does it take to fit a smart meter?

It usually takes up to one hour per meter (gas and/or electricity). So if you are a dual-fuel customer, it should take no longer than 2 hours.

The video below gives you a brief overview of the installation process:

Note that dual-fuel customers will need two smart meters – one for your gas supply and one for your electricity. Both are free and we will aim to install both in the same visit. You will only need one in-home display.

Can I switch energy suppliers if I have a smart meter?

Yes. Be aware however that if you already have an older 1st-generation smart meter, it may not be compatible with your new supplier. If you are unsure, check with your current supplier before making the switch.

Modern 2nd-generation smart meters can be switched seamlessly between suppliers.

Can I get a smart meter if I pre-pay for my gas or electric?

Yes. A smart meter will help you monitor your usage and allow you to pay remotely. They’re also ideal for people with limited mobility, as traditional meters are often difficult and inconvenient to access.

Can I get a smart meter if I rent my home?

Yes. As a tenant, if you are directly responsible for paying the energy bills, then you have the right to choose your own energy supplier. In most circumstances your energy meter belongs to the energy company, not your landlord. This means that you are free to switch suppliers and get your old meter replaced with a smart meter (Ofgem recommends that you still give your landlord a heads-up before getting a smart meter fitted).

IHD
An Eversmart in-home display (IHD)

How to get a smart meter

Eversmart Energy offer a free smart meter to every new customer. We also offer some of the best value energy tariffs in the country – you could save up to £300 per year by switching to us. You can get a quote in under 2 minutes here.

5 Replies to “What is a smart meter and how do they work?”

    1. Hi again John. We only supply one type of IHD – the model is the Secure Pipit 500. You can buy another IHD model if you wish and sync it up with your smart meter – if you need any help doing this just give us a call.

  1. Are the smart meters you are fitting SMETS2 or the first generation models? I can find no reference to this on your site, I’m concerned this blog refers to using SIM for communication and not DCC, please can you confirm?

    1. Hi David. We are currently installing SMETS1 (the first generation models) as we are currently in the early stages of testing for the SMETS2 meters and plan to begin our roll out of SMETS2 in early 2019. However, all of our SMETS1 meters will be transferred to have SMETS2 capabilities through the DCC adaptor.

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