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Are households being pushed to get smart meters?

61% of customers offered a smart meter say they were not given a full explanation of why they were being offered it

smart meter ihds

Every home should be offered a smart meter from their supplier by 2020.

The smart meter rollout across England Scotland and Wales should see an end to energy customers having to manually provide their supplier with meter readings — making bills more accurate. Another major benefit is that a smart meter’s in home display can show what a household is spending on gas and electricity in real time.

Consumers are feeling the pressure of the rollout

Despite the clear perks to consumers, there is concern that tight deadlines for suppliers to install the meters are causing questionable tactics to come into play. Recent uSwitch research suggests that some suppliers – mandated to hit government installation targets – may be pushing consumers too hard to accept one, with many consumers feeling that supplier communications regarding smart meters haven’t given them the full picture.

Three in ten consumers that have been offered a smart meter said they felt pressured into accepting it by their energy supplier. Of this group, a further three in ten claim they were not given a choice, and that it was part of a routine meter upgrade.

Opting in for a smart meter is not compulsory, and all households are able to decline one. However, it seems that this isn’t the only information that hasn’t been successfully relayed to customers: one in ten said they weren’t provided with any information at all about why they needed a smart meter or what it was for.

2020 deadline looking increasingly unlikely

Richard Neudegg, Head of Regulation at uSwitch.com, says: “Unfortunately, the smart meter rollout has been delayed because not all the necessary infrastructure has been built yet.

“This has led to a rush to meet the 2020 deadline and energy companies being threatened with fines if they don’t meet the installation targets imposed on them, creating an environment where some suppliers feel they need to use questionable tactics to try to get households to accept a smart meter.

“Households have a right to know that they don’t have to accept a smart meter if they don’t want one. Consumers have told us about engineers turning up unannounced to install them without customers’ permission which is simply unacceptable.

“No one should feel pressured into having one without even understanding what it can and can’t do.

“Smart meters are an important upgrade to the country’s energy infrastructure and will help consumers reduce their energy use – and ultimately their bills. But energy suppliers need to focus on helping households to understand what the smart meters currently being offered can do and why they are being rolled out. Otherwise the risk is that households won’t change their behaviour to reduce their energy usage, nor will they trust the technology, and faith in the rollout programme will be lost.

“Putting consumers at the heart of the programme is more important than hitting a deadline which is looking increasingly unrealistic”

smart meter stats

Full details of the research featured can be found in the uSwitch media centre

  • Andrew C

    I don’t ned a smart meter, I need smart wife and kids. the meter itself offers no saving, I’ve heard of incompatibility when swapping from one provider to another, that’s another reason I don’t want one. Add to this the thought that these meters will need replacing on a regular basis also stops me from wanting one. Reading and sending my meter numbers doesn’t bother me, not saving money and having to be around for replacements does! They are a con in many ways, the lates figures are saying that the average saving in £11 per household. Waste of time, waste of effort.

  • spotthelemon

    smart meters save nothing, the hope is that it will enable consumers to become more interested in their energy consumption and so reduce it because the meters make it easier measure. This may work with some people but it is far from guaranteed to work with everyone. It does mean that bills will be more accurate which is a good thing.

    Personally if I want to know how much electricity I’m using then I go into the hall and look at how fast the wheel is turning on my ordinary meter.

    There re two main versions of the meters and the earlier one (SMETS1) is subject to a number of issues including not always working when you switch supplier and they need acccess to a mobile network which is a problem for people live in a mobile blind spot or poor reception area. They also sometimes can’t fit a smart meter is your existing meter is in a box outside. There’s also a number of other issues. Most the problems are solved by the second generation of smart meter but many companies are still installing first generation meters and they often don’t tell you which one they are going to install.

  • Keith M V

    It is not well known that not all companies have an arrangement for Smart Meters,I was with Green Star energy and had a Smart meter fitted, but now I have changed to a different supplier they do not have an arrangement about Smart Meters. Also there are several different makes of Smart Meters and none are the same display or how they work. It was not explained that if supplier does not support Smart Meters at this time, how to give them a reading as the display on the Meter itself is Blank. I had the Smart Meter fitted because I am disabled but now it proves to be a waste of time as my wife has to get down on her hands and knees to try and read the meter.

  • Vicky Smith

    Yes. I’ve had half a dozen phone calls & emails trying to get me to have a Smart Meter. I’ve told them to go away I’m not interested.

  • Mr C. Jones

    I had a smart meter fitted for both gas & electricity two years ago and regret the change. I didn’t realise at the time that changing suppliers once one has a smart meter fitted is almost impossible if you want to use the auto-read service, which rather defeats the use of smart meters. The government speaks with forked tongue, on one hand it recommends the fitting of smart meters, and on the other hand it recommends changing suppliers to get the best deals. So my advice is stick with your original meters !

    • James Kirk

      The government, that’s any government, any party always speaks with forked tongue. If the government is telling you to do something it is not for your good, it’s for theirs

      • Wake up folks

        Because they are ALL corporations and in it for profit NOT to benefit US. The sooner most realise this the better.

  • Bow Dinki

    I don’t know what type of smart meters are offered but if they are the same kind as those installed in France you have to know that they emit radiations which are harmful for you and the environment. I don’t want that at my home.

    • Andrew

      This is utter cr@p! Please don’t comment when you clearly have no concept or frame of reference around the discussion topic.

      • Bow Dinki

        Radiations are 140 to 800 higher than the radiations from mobile phone. Don’t comment if you have no analytic mind and stop being rude. I suppose you cannot read French so I won’t bother citing my reference but I’m sure there are in English too.

        • Andrew

          My apologies, I thought you were making a meaningful like for like comparison to a standard meter and not to an item utterly unrelated to the discussion at hand. Additionally, I would also advise against making suppositions, especially as you have already proved to have no capability in this sphere.

  • Bob

    Smart meters will not save you money.
    The only way you will save is use less gas and electric, so turn off
    anything you are not using, and get LED bulbs and probably get light sensors, that turn off lights when you are not in the room.

    • Wake up folks

      These things are DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH and I bet if those who felt pressurised into having one knew this they wouldn’t want one. Look on the net under smart meters and see just how BAD what they emit all the tie is to your health.

      It’s all about corporations wanting more control over us. It’s about control and money folks. They don’t give two figs about you or your health.

      The statement says it all they are being forced or pressured into making their customers have one.

      DON’T.

      They even lie about them being compulsory. They ARE NOT.

      You can but meters that connect to your power line with a loop cable. and monitor what you use PRIVATELY.

      This is not damaging to your health and does not invade your privacy.

      These ‘smart meters’ (no they are not smart but hazardous) emit micro waves thousands of times worse than holding a mobile phone to your ear and transmit all the time.

      THEY LIE about this.

      Check it out and refuse having one fitted. That’s IF you value your life and privacy.

      • severn sea

        I’m not sure about emissions but I think they’re also dangerous because they are a constant reminder of how much your bill will be, which will pile more pressure and stress on those struggling to afford their bills. Some people, including the elderly and parents with young children, may feel pressurised to turn the heating off for fear that they won’t be able to pay the bill. And before any people dismiss this, believe me if you’ve been in this position you will understand.

        Another issue is it will make it easy for an energy provider to switch you to a more expensive pay as you go tariff if you’re having problems paying, or even cut you off completely. Often if you’re struggling it helps if you can buy a little time but these meters could take that away from you, as previously an engineer would physically have to call. Now they will be able to cut people off instantly by simply pushing a button, just like they can with a mobile phone contract if I’ve understood how they can control them.

        My issue is completely different – I live in a rented house which like many is desperately short of power sockets, so I simply don’t have a spare socket to plug the accompanying display unit into, which means I won’t be using it even if I’m forced to accept the meter. Frankly I have better things to do than what my bills going up minute by minute. Saving money is common sense and just needs a little thought, not a smart meter.

        But the most annoying issue for me is the ridiculous cost of all this will simply be added stealthily to our bills and is probably why we’ve had the recent spate of price rises. They’re not free at all – you think the supply companies are going to pay for them out of their profits? So I’ll be effectively forced to pay for something I don’t want, don’t need and won’t use.

        • Andrew

          Bob, WakeUpFolks and SevernSea. This is the most interesting post on the page, and a real and tangible example of information mixing with interpretation to create chaos. There are some really good points mentioned here – I refer specifically to the comments regarding people feeling pressured to turn off heating, the disconnection question, tariff changes and price rises – but there are some real ‘red flags’ which are simply mis-truths. In summary, Emissions – No, they are more advanced and infinitely better than previous technology. Control – Partially. Abstraction (theft, if you will) cost the industry millions per annum, which, as per a previous comment, doesn’t come out of profits, but from your bills. These meters will also allow you to change supplier within days, since new settings, with the appropriate consent, can be installed remotely. It should be noted that this happens now with the millions of AMR meters (pre-SMART) installed in the UK, so no change!! Cutting off supply will still be a court decision (A Warrant) so this would be a last resort only, but again, this can happen now on AMR meter. Attach a monitor with a loop cable – No. Meter is not your property and, not only are you not permitted to make adjustments to the installation, and the MOP would be within their rights to remove and dispose of this. I’m happy to answer any sensible questions.

          • severn sea

            Yes I should have said that while all electrical equipment emits radiation which would be harmful in the right quantity, the levels are miniscule and not dangerous in any way.

            With regard to cutting off supplies, be careful with this. The main reason, in fact the only reason, they need a warrant is to enter your home, not to cut off your supply because the point of a warrant is to enable them to enter your property. So no, they wouldn’t need a warrant to enter your property because they wouldn’t need to enter it if you have a smart meter.

            They don’t need the court’s permission to disconnect you if the meter is located outside the property for example (though technically you could refuse them access to the grounds of your property at which point they would then need to apply for a warrant).

            In theory they could cut you off literally instantly with a quick phone call from their representative at court to their operations centre being enough for them to be able to push the button within minutes of a hearing ending. At least with the current method it can buy you some time to procreate the funds you may need to prevent disconnection. Even one day can make a big difference.

            That said, before we get carried away here, disconnection of supply is a last resort as you say so in most cases it’s highly unlikely that you would be cut off and you would almost certainly be offered a pay as you go option instead.

  • kampalian
  • Tony

    I was told last year by a female member of staff of Meterplus,an agent acting for Scottish Power, that I had to by law, have a smart meter fitted and that their engineer was due to fit one (by appointment) within the next few days. I point-blank refused to have one fitted (and stick by the decision). The engineer called in my absence but as I had left a note instructing him not to fit one it was not done. Scottish Power now put a notice on their website inviting customers to apply for a meter. I do not see the point- I always get an email in time to supply readings for both gas and electricity on time. Having a smart meter fitted does NOT reduce usage, it can only guide consumers about their consumption so that they can take appropriate action if they see fit.

  • Mr J Kenyon

    I switched to First Utility this year (Smart First June 2019 Online) did not read the small print in which I was agreeing to have smart meter fitted. I should have known as SMART was in the title of the a/c. The Seimens engineer who fitted it said it was a SMETS1 and probably wouldn’t work with other companies if I switched after contract ended in June 2019. What a waste of money.

  • Basil

    Smart meters are a con i had one with British Gas and My bills wenty up so i swapped out to SSE and ive told them I dont want one, if anything they are more expensive give out dangerous emissions and increase your bill the only difference with a conventional one and a smart one is you cannot ask for a recalc, with a smart one.
    Waste of time and money my adviice advoid, the infrastructure is not in place and the wireless tech is far from secure or even accurate

    • Andrew

      Smart meter are no more or less expensive than traditional ‘dumb’ meters or AMR meters. The technology which records the data is exactly the same, and only the method of communication differs, so to state they give off radiation is not correct either. I have no idea why you would ever ask for a recalc as the meter registers units of use, not pricing, which is done by your supplier. I assume you are referring to communications infrastructure since the meters are fitted onto existing installed wiring infrastructure, and this is well and truly in place and is ready for rollout across the 3 designated UK regions (North/Mids/South). The communications technology is incredibly secure, and I have seen this first had communicating with a SMETS2 meter through the appropriate messaging adapters. Only license holders will have the privilege of communicating with these devices, so its incredibly well regulated. Only perception and desire are delaying this.

  • Grenville Sheppard

    Had a call today from my supplier, the girl said it was the law that I had to have a smart meter, I said would you like to repeat that, I have a recorder, she said no and put the phone down. That’s scare tactics

    • Andrew

      Its not obligatory for you to have a smart meter fitted as yet. Presently, this decision is your prerogative. However, this may not always be the case. Its unlikely that as a domestic customer you will own your own meter, and this will generally be owned by a Meter Asset Provider and maintained by a Meter Operator on behalf of a supplier. At some stage, it may become their decision (generally the supplier, who are the central party in this deregulated environment), although it may require amendments to the Electricity Act 1989.

  • Leslie Foster

    The only way to save money is to switch heating and lights off very dangerous for the elderly.Once again Government wasting our money.

  • Yvonne Robertson

    I currently have economy 7, cheap night rate, I keep getting calls, not from my current provider, asking me to change over, and to be honest I was considering it but can anyone answer my question, if, I get a smart meter will it be an economy 7 equivalent?

    • Andrew

      You can have an off peak setting, which is what E7 is.

      • Yvonne Robertson

        If I change over to a smart meter will that take away my cheap night Tariff?

        • Andrew

          Your supplier can programme the new meter for the same settings as your current meter. It would be prudent to discuss this first and get a formal confirmation, but its entirely possible from a technical perspective.

  • James Kirk

    I told E.ON to stop bothering me, they have done.

  • My myself and I

    Smart meters are a con. They Only benefit your supplier, in the near future it will enable them to change your tariff remotely so they start charging you different rates at different times!

    • Andrew

      That can happen now!!

  • Tony B

    Latest figures show average savings are £11 per year!!! What a total waste of money the scheme is.

  • David Archer

    I have absolutely no intention of agreeing to a smart meter. I know to the last penny what every month’s energy bill is and am able to fine tune my monthly direct debit as a result. As Bob says, the only way to save money is being careful as to when you use energy, convert the house to LED lighting (cheaper now thanks to Poundland) and be careful in negotiating with your energy supplier. Smart meters are NOT energy savers – they only inform. They are also a tool to get rid of the need for meter readers. I submit my readings every month – takes all of 5 minutes!!

    • severn sea

      Just a quick note about Poundland’s LED bulbs, in my experience they don’t last “5 minutes”. We replaced 8 in the kitchen and hallway. 6 of them haven’t lasted the year and having dismantled one I can see the quality is quite poor which isn’t good for a mains electrical item. Be careful because some of the cheap Chinese stuff, which the cheap retailers like Poundland buy in, can be of “questionable quality” shall we say. I’ve replaced the lot with a known brand and wouldn’t risk using them again.

  • Graham Carling

    For anyone with reasonable understanding and ability, sending gas and electric readings is easy to do and anyone with any sense must know whether they are unnecessarily using too much energy. So far as I understand, the main value for smart meters is that the readings are taken automatically and for some, these have been inaccurate to such a degree that people have been overcharged by large amounts. Also, it has been reported that the savings have been quite minimal and not really worth the trouble.

  • Ian Read

    Is it true that smart meters are not compatible across all suppliets?

  • Chris

    I had a telephone call to say that they Scottish power were in my area fitting smart meters I said no thank you the man said Tuesday at at 10 we will come and fit I said again I do not want smart meters he said why everyone has to have one I said I DO NOT want one gas or electric , he was extremely pushy and domeneering

    • severn sea

      That’s easy, put the phone down. I’ve never understood how anybody can be intimidated on the phone, just hang up.

  • Ed Cranford

    My understanding is that current smart meters being offered/fitted cannot be used when you change your supplier. I think a standardised version of the Smart meter which will work with all energy suppliers is being rolled out by 2020. I had a Smart Meter installed by British Gas then changed to EON now I have to read and send my readings to EON. EON have offered to install their own version of a smart meter but I refused since there is no guarantee I will remain with EON when my contract expires. Its probably worth waiting until the Smart Meter is standard for all energy suppliers which may not be until 2020, if you want one that is. Personally I found it did make me think more about the energy I was using and I could see the high consuming appliance measured in cost. Plus my usage readings were being sent direct to the supplier so I was able to monitor online every month my usage and cost. I think they are a good idea when they are standard for all Energy suppliers.

    • severn sea

      Jeeze, I didn’t know they were all different and couldn’t be used cross-company. What a total farce. Typical of everything we do in this country and why everything is so expensive, takes forever to implement yet is pathetically inefficient when compared with how other countries do it. Can we ever get anything right?

      I mean honestly, thanks to the rip off prices I’m now changing my suppliers regularly – 4 times in the last 26 months – I don’t want to but I’m not paying more than I have to for the same stuff, so the whole thing is a complete waste of time then unless we’re expected to get the meter (that I don’t want in the first place) replaced every time we switch.

  • Martin

    I keep asking for a meter, but as I have ecomny 10 my supplier can not supply me with one as they have not worked out how to do it with three meter readings. Supplier SSE

    • Wake up folks

      Don’t you WILL regret it.

  • Wake up folks

    Also AVOID companies who won’t allow you on their cheapest tariff UNLESS you opt for these things.

    First utility BIG MISTAKE. So I left them and wne even better with AVRO. Highly recommended and cheaper too with NO SMART meters and only one tariff.

  • George Bradbury

    They are not smart meters at all. We have changed suppliers recently, but the ‘smart” meters are not compatable with our new supplier. Meaning we have to start sending meter readings again, so what good are they to us now. They do not save you money, if you have to boil a kettle or use a light, it costs you!!!

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