Your Rights as a Customer
The UK Government requires energy suppliers to install smart meters for their customers, and has set out rules to ensure that they do this in a way that is in the interests of customers, including rules around:
- data access
- technical standards for the smart metering equipment
- meeting the needs of vulnerable customers.
Smart Meters will be rolled out as standard across the country by 2020, and this deadline may be extended to 2024. But there will not be a legal obligation on individuals to have one.
Energy companies will be required to install smart meters and take all reasonable steps to reach everyone. However energy companies will not take legal action to fit a smart meter if they cannot get the householder's co-operation.
The government is ensuring that appropriate customer protection provisions are put in place:
- there will be no sales during the installation visit
- smart meter installers must provide energy efficiency advice as part of the visit and they will need the customer's permission in advance of the visit if they are to talk to them about their own products
- protecting the privacy of individuals and putting them in control of smart meter data.
Should you want to check how suppliers have to behave towards customers during the Smart Metering roll-out the rules are detailed in the Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP).
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 such as theft detection.
You will be able to see your real-time energy consumption data on your In Home Display. At least 13 months’ of measurement data taken at half hourly intervals may be available for you to look should you wish to, although only a few small trials have been conducted with devices to do this.
Your energy company, and the energy networks, will be able to see enough of the data to allow them to send you accurate bills and carry out other essential tasks.
You will also be able to share data with third parties (such as switching sites) if you want them to give you advice on the best tariff for you, should you wish to.
Consumers should not have any problems switching energy company if they have a smart meter, although their meter may revert to 'dumb' mode if it is a SMETS1 model which has not yet been migrated to the new DCC's systems.
Ofgem have published new regulations to deal with smart type meters. These include obligations on energy companies to make sure the smart functions of the meter are still available, and to make clear to customers where they will not be, on change of supplier.
The meter can still be used as a traditional meter if the new energy company cannot support the smart functionality at this stage.
A customer's right, and the rights and obligations of supplier's have been clearly defined by BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy).
A Customer's rights:
- To refuse to have a Smart Meter (in later years this will probably mean you have a SMETS2 Smart Meter without a communications module, which will be the closest thing to a traditional meter).
- To refuse daily meter readings.
- Not to agree to half hourly readings.
A Supplier's rights:
- Suppliers can take a monthly reading without requiring any form of consent from the customer.
- Suppliers can take a meter reading data without a customer's consent if they suspect theft is occurring.
- Suppliers can take a meter reading data without a customer's consent to produce a final bill if they have changed supplier.
- Suppliers can take a meter reading data without a customer's consent to produce a final bill if the people living in a premises have changed.
- Suppliers can take a meter reading data without a customer's consent to deal with a customer enquiry.
- Suppliers can only take half hourly meter readings from a customer who has explicitly said they are happy for half hourly readings to be taken.
A Supplier's obligations
- To take all reasonable steps to install a Smart Meter at every customer's premises. It is not expected that all reasonable steps would extend as far as taking legal action to fit a smart meter if they cannot get the householder's cooperation.
- Not to try to sell services or products on the Smart Meter installation visit
- To provide energy efficiency advice as part of the Smart Meter installation visit and to get the customer's permission in advance of the visit if they want to talk about their own products
- Suppliers must regularly remind customers of the meter reading frequency being used, the uses those readings are being put to and the choices they have
- To give the customer the chance to refuse to allow daily readings to be taken.
- To ask the customer if they agree to half hourly readings being taken.
Questions & Answers
Supplier says to you that they must fit a Smart Meter - What should you say?
- SMETS2 meters are more secure than SMETS1.
- Functions such as prepayment are more reliable across a range of suppliers.
- Although 15th March 2019 was the end date for installing SMETS1 meters, this just means that suppliers can't count SMETS1 towards their Ofgem targets. They could still install them if they have stock left over.
- Even if your supplier says they are installing SMETS2 only, the installer may have some SMETS1 left in their van to use where they can't get a SMETS2 to work or physically fit.
- SMETS2 meters will have a solution for high rise flats and basements where the meters and IHD (in House Display) are far apart. This is known as the alternative HAN solution and should be available by the end of 2019.
Can I refuse to have a smart meter installed?
Do I have to be at home for the installation?
What will energy companies do with the information they collect about my energy consumption?
When will I get a smart meter?
Contact your supplier if you would like a smart meter installed, however it is up to you if you want a smart meter as they are not compulsory.
If my electricity and gas is with different suppliers, what happens?
Should I wait for a SMETS2 meter?
Can my supply be turned off remotely?
How much will it cost me to run my In Home Display?
Can I look at my energy usage on the internet?
How long will it take to install a Smart Meter?
Your electricity and gas will only be off for about 20 minutes though.
How much data is stored on a Smart Meter?
How do I know the meters are accurate?
Can I still switch energy supplier if I have a smart meter?
Can I have a smart meter if I'm a prepayment customer?
What is the cost of the In Home Display (previously known as an SMD or HEM)?
Suppliers have an obligation to replace a broken IHD in the first year after installation.
How much will a smart meter cost me?
Who will install my smart meter?