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What happened when we switched to a smart meter


When Ben and Leyann Nobes decided to switch to a smart meter, they weren’t sure what to expect. Here, First Utility reveals how they adjusted to their new energy monitoring device and why they decide to try it out. 

Ben Nobes, 37 & Leyann Nobes, 28 from Somerset

Family: Married with a three year-old son

Live: Four bedroom semi-detached house, Bridgwater, Somerset

Work: Ben works for a large telecoms company, Leyann is a full-time mum


Ben Nobes and his wife Leyann have lived in their home in Somerset for just over four years, and recently switched their electricity and gas supply to First Utility after deciding they wanted a smart meter to enable them to better manage their energy usage and bills. The Nobes have had two free smart meters installed (replacing their old meters) for both electricity and gas.

Time to switch

“The main reason for wanting to switch suppliers was that I wanted a smart meter” explains Mr. Nobes. “I’d read about the potential for smart meters to save people energy and money, and started looking at how I could get one.”

In May 2009, the desire for a smart meter led to Mr. Nobes switching his electricity and gas supply from one of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies to First Utility, one of the leading independent energy suppliers in the UK. First Utility is the first, and still the only, energy provider to be offering free smart meters to its customers throughout the UK.

“The fact was that no-one else could provide me with a smart meter. In fact, our old supplier didn’t even know what a smart meter was.” explains Mr. Nobes.

Smart savings

Like many people, the Nobes family had, until switching, always received estimated energy bills.

One of the biggest changes with First Utility’s smart metered energy is that customers receive a single, accurate monthly bill. This drastically reduces the hassle factor that accompanies the traditional energy bill – searching under the stairs to read the meter, calling up to submit an accurate reading and finally receiving an accurate bill.

The issue of bill payment is another key difference with First Utility, as Mr. Nobes found. “With our previous supplier, we paid £150 a month direct debit. Although this meant we could spread higher winter payments over the summer, it also meant we were frequently owed money at the end of the year.”

Mr. Nobes continues: “Even though we can’t automatically spread our winter bill payments with First Utility, it’s far easier to manage our bills on a month by month basis. After switching, we simply continued to put £150 a month into a separate account, and paid our First Utility bill out of this.”

Six months after having their smart meter installed, the Nobes have now built up a surplus of £600 in this account, which they used to spend on a summer trip to France. Mr. Nobes adds: “Even our ‘winter’ December bill with First Utility was cheaper than the average £150 a month payment with our previous supplier – and we used a lot of energy in December.”

“It’s great that First Utility is already rolling out smart meters. This type of modern technology combined with cheaper prices is providing people in the UK with a real alternative to the ‘Big Six’ energy companies in the UK.”

  • Geoffrey Lee

    I use to fit smart meaters aprox 20 years ago but these were only for large usage business customers.All they realy did was count the units used and phone this through on a free phone number onec a month.So you were allways up to date and only paying for what you used.Geff.

  • Bryan Bulloch

    I thought uswitch were independent, but this is a puff for First Utility?
    If the Nobes were previously paying a Direct Debit of £150/month and with a smart meter managed to build up a surplus of £600 in six months (including December). this means they managed to reduce their monthly bill to £50. Pull the other one!

    • stuart

      I changed to first utility over a year ago & i confirm that i save well over £50 a month
      i only pay for what i use & am having a smart meter fitted today
      Before I had british gas & eon paid quarterly by cheque !

  • Maya Robert

    Hi Bryan

    Yes, uSwitch are an independent switching service.

    We do, however, welcome guest blog posts from a range of companies and suppliers if the content is relevant and interesting to our readers. This way we are able to offer our readers a wide range of opinions, examples, stories and experiences.

    In this particular blog post, we simply intended to give people who haven’t had any experience of a smart meter an example of a real family who have switched and how they managed their account differently. Many suppliers offer smart meters, which offer customers a way to reduce the total amount of energy they use by monitoring their usage. Often, customers who switch energy suppliers (with or without a smart meter) do so because they will be paying less than with their previous supplier.

    Hope this helps:)


  • Mike B

    I was keen to get a smart meter but then I read the small print that the standing charge was some £300 per year. You have to use a lot of energy to cover that so Im sticking with 1st Utlility without the smart meter