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 2024. But there will not be a legal obligation on individuals to have one unless your existing meter is faulty or has reached the end of its certified life.
Energy companies will be required to install smart meters and take all reasonable steps to reach everyone.
The government has ensured that appropriate customer protection provisions are 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). This covers:
- Ensuring that installers are trained to the highest standards
- Arranging an appointment at a time to suit you
- Minimising disruption
- Providing the right service and support for anyone who is vulnerable or needs special help
- Telling you the options if a smart meter can't be installed
- Showing you how to use your smart equipment so that you get the maximum value from it
- Making sure any communications sent to you provides all the information and facts you need
- Advising you on ways you can monitor your energy use, and how you can use that information to become more energy efficient and reduce your energy bills
- Making sure action is prompt and keeping you informed on progress if something goes wrong with your smart equipment.
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 monthly readings will be available on electricity and gas. The electricity also stores 13 months' of measurement data taken at half-hourly intervals which may be available for you to look should you wish to, although not all supply companies provide facilities to do this.
Your energy company, and the energy networks, will be able to see monthly 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 unless your existing meter is faulty or has reached the end of its certified life.
- 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.
- To install a certified meter to measure energy consumption. The metering may or not be Smart but as stocks of traditional meters are used up eventually only Smart Meters will be available for installation.
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 unless their existing meter is faulty or has reached the end of its certified life.
- 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
- 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 at the end of 2021.
- The installer will not shake your hand or accept a cup of tea.
- The installer will not be able to demonstrate the IHD operation as this involves touching the screen. You will be given operating instructions instead.
- The installer won't ask you to sign off the installation.
- It is recommended you open windows to ensure good ventilation.
You can discuss any concerns you have about smart meters with your supplier. See our Against page for information on why some people are worried about Smart Meters. (Updated: 2021-05-07)
In June 2020 BEIS stated that they considered such a charge can be reasonable, for example, if a non-standard metering service is requested by the consumer where a smart meter could be deployed. (Updated: 2021-05-07)
Your electricity and gas will only be off for about 20 minutes though. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
However, if they pay you for energy and you pay the Supplier, then you should arrange the installation of a Smart Meter or wait until you are contacted by a supplier. (Updated: 2019-10-21)