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One in three homes report problems with smart meters

One in three homes report problems with smart meters

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With just over a year to go until the deadline for rolling out smart meters arrives, new data from uSwitch shows that the rollout to date has been less than smooth, with over four million energy users running into problems with their smart meters.

31% of households with smart meters have reported issues with their devices since they were installed:

  • 39% say that their smart displays stop working
  • 32% say that their devices go dumb after switching
  • 13% say that their meters stop functioning entirely

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Additionally, a third (33%) of households with second generation SMETS2 meters, which were not expected to experience technical problems, have encountered issues since they were installed.

One in five (20%) smart meter owners say they have been offered a first generation smart meter device (SMETS1) since March. Energy suppliers haven't been able to count SMETS1 meters towards their installation targets since this date and should be rolling out SMETS2 meters instead.

Smart meter effect on energy usage habits

However, on the positive side, 29% of homes credit owning a smart meter with helping to reduce their energy bills, which is an improvement from 16% last year. Two thirds of households (67%) also say that their device has made them more aware of how much energy they use, compared to just under a third (28%) in 2018.

This increased level of awareness has helped spark better energy saving habits in some areas: 38% say they now turn off lights when they aren’t in the room compared to 33% in 2018, and 22% now wash clothes at a lower temperature, up from 18% last year. In fact, smart meter owners say changing their habits has helped them save around £108 a year on average.

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Rik Smith, energy expert at uSwitch, says: “While it’s great to see smart meters improving energy habits and helping consumers to save on their bills, there are still far too many issues with the rollout which are damaging consumer confidence in the whole scheme.

“There is a real opportunity to build more confidence in smart meters now, if households are given the right information to make the most of their new device, and if they’re only offered a second generation meter which shouldn’t go dumb if they switch supplier.

“But people say that they’re still being offered first generation meters, despite the legacy of them going wrong and the risk they will go dumb when someone changes to a different provider. The lack of clarity around when these SMETS1 devices will work seamlessly with multiple suppliers is losing the scheme the advocates it desperately needs. Energy companies should only be offering second generation meters to their customers, which will give them peace of mind that it should stay smart if they switch.”

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