Supplier led roll-out
The government requires suppliers to install smart meters in their customers' homes, and is setting 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.
Energy companies will be required to install smart meters and take all reasonable steps to reach everyone. However, the government do not expect energy companies to take legal action to fit a smart meter if they cannot get the householder's co-operation.
So does this mean you could refuse to have one? Yes it does, unless your current meter is faulty or at the end of its certified life. But for most people it would be difficult to think of a genuine reason to refuse a smart meter. Refusing does not save you money and reduces the options you have to monitor your energy consumption and the selection of products and payment options open to you in the future.
The Smart Metering Implementation Programme is led by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), regulated by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), and delivered by energy suppliers.
(Page updated: 2021-05-02)
Questions & Answers
Supplier says to you that they must fit a Smart Meter - What should you say?
Looking at the install numbers from Elexon
, the risk of getting an older SMETS1 meter is low and you are very likely to get the latest SMETS2 meter.
So we recommend you say Yes
. We still recommend insisting on a SMETS2 meter when ordering and when your installer arrives as:
- 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.
Why do suppliers keep pushing Smart meters?
It may seem strange why suppliers keep pushing smart meters even though customers can just say no. The reason for this is that suppliers have to tell the regulator Ofgem every year what they will achieve by the end of the year in terms of % of customers with a Smart Meter, and they must not miss this target.
Ofgem will also check that the rate of installation is high enough to cover all customers by 2020, so suppliers can't get away with just giving a low figure.
If suppliers don't achieve this forecast then they get fined. For example EDF Energy was fined £350k in June 2018
for missing their own forecast target. (Updated: 2018-09-01)
Can I refuse to have a smart meter installed?
You are under no obligation to have a smart meter installed in your home unless your existing meter is faulty or has reached the end of its certified life. If you refuse you can change your mind and accept one later. However, there will come a time when only Smart Meters are available and so if your meter breaks due to a fault it will be replaced by a Smart Meter.
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)
Can my supplier charge me for a Traditional Meter?
Although you can simply refuse a Smart Meter when offered, you cannot refuse one if your existing meter is faulty or has reached the end of its certified life. In these circumstances some suppliers may have some stocks of traditional meters left which they could offer you if they wish. However, they have the right to charge you for the installation of a traditional meter as it increases their operational costs and does not help them meet their obligation to install Smart Meters.
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)
Does my SMETS1 meters have to be replaced?
In early 2018 the government and industry agreed to build interfaces which allow the earlier SMETS1 (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications) Smart Meters to be moved to the new DCC system supporting SMETS2 meters. This means that, although you may have lost Smart functionally when you changed supplier, when it is enrolled into the new DCC system that functionally will come back, and you’ll be able to change suppliers without technical problems. The process of moving the meters across system is called enrolment and adoption
See our Technical page
for a list of SMETS1 meter types that can be upgraded.
When will my SMETS1 meter operate again?
The upgrade and transfer of SMETS1 (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications) meters into DCC's systems is planned to occur between June 2019 and the end of 2020. For more details see Annex B on this DCC planning document
Provided your meters are on the list of meters which can fit into this process on table SMETS 1 Meters for adoption by DCC
they should start working again during that transfer period. (Updated: 2019-10-17)
Will my meters have to be changed if I change supplier?
There are a number of meter standards out there currently, only the latest SMETS2 standard is fully interoperable, meaning only SMETS2 are supported by all suppliers and allow customers to switch without losing any services or requiring any equipment changes. SMETS2 meters are now being installed in large volumes.
SMETS1 meters usually require replacing when you change supplier to retain a smart service. However, due to the large volume of SMETS1 meters, there is now an agreement to allow SMETS1 meters to be upgraded and enrolled into the new DCC systems and thus allow smooth switching for customers.
See our Technical page
for a list of SMETS1 meter types that can be upgraded. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
Does my meter produce my bill?
Although your meter calculates your bill so that the cost can be shown on your IHD (In Home Display), your supplier will calculate and produce a bill independently of the meter readings collected from your meter. Suppliers do this so that they can produce a bill even if the communications to your meter is broken, i.e. requires an estimated bill. (Updated: 2020-02-09)
What is credit and prepayment mode?
Credit mode is where you pay for energy though a paying a amount of money regularly, usually a fixed amount. If your energy consumption goes above what you have paid for the supplier will allow you to re-pay over a period thereby offering you credit.
Prepayment is when you pay in advance for your energy buy charging a key or putting coins in a meter. The new smart meters will allow you to pay through the internet. (Updated: 2017-09-11)
Do I have to be at home for the installation?
You must be at home for the installation even if your meter box is outside. The government rules under SMICOP (Smart Installation Code of Practice)
say that suppliers must explain to you how the Smart Meter and In Home Display work. Additionally it is considered dangerous to disconnect and reconnect the supply without checking with the householder that it is safe to do so. (Updated: 2018-07-01)
What will energy companies do with the information they collect about my energy consumption?
Under Ofgem codes published July 2013, you can dictate how much data your energy supplier can retrieve from your smart meter and whether your supplier can share that information with third parties. See our Customer Rights
page for your rights on meter readings. You can also decide whether or not your supplier can use that information for marketing purposes. Just call your supplier if you want to check or change your preferences. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
When will I get a smart meter?
Each supplier started installing high volumes of SMETS1 Smart Meters in 2017, and started on SMETS2 meters in 2018. They are keen to install as many as they can to meet government targets. Whether they can install at your particular address is mainly governed by the signal availability on the new SMETS2 DCC Network; there was 97% coverage by the end of 2018 and a planned coverage of 99.25% by the end of 2020.
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. (Updated: 2020-02-01)
If my electricity and gas is with different suppliers, what happens?
If your electricity and gas is with different suppliers, each supplier will contact you to make an appointment to install a smart meter for the fuel they supply to you. SMETS2 equipment has been designed to a particular standard so that all the meters and In Home Displays can talk together, this way you only need one In Home Display which will normally be supplied by the first supplier who installs a smart meter in your home. However, the earlier SMETS1 standard did not always interoperate unless the meters were on the same system, and even then support for interoperability by suppliers was poor. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
I have a SMETS2 meter. Will it work after switching suppliers?
If you have a SMETS2 (Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications) meter it has to be commissioned through DCC which is a common service used by all suppliers. Therefore you are safe to switch as your meter will continue to work with your new supplier.
SMETS1 meters often use different support systems across different suppliers and therefore fail to work after switching suppliers. (Updated: 2020-01-07)
Is my energy use "IMP KWH", "EXP KWH, or "IMP KVARH"?
The IMP KWH should be used to show how much electricity you have used.
The EXP KWH is for how many kWhs you've pumped out to the National Grid, which is only relevant if you've got something generating electricity such as solar panels.
IMP KVARH is only used by distribution companies as it helps understand the current flowing in the supply cables. (Updated: 2021-04-09)
Can I look at my energy usage on the internet?
You will be able to view your energy usage on the internet at some stage. Suppliers are all working on new systems to make this possible. (Updated: 2015-01-23)
How long will it take to install a Smart Meter?
A typical installation will take about one hour per meter. However, this will vary according to your property and where your meters are located.
Your electricity and gas will only be off for about 20 minutes though. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
Why does my IHD show CO2?
The measure of CO2 on your IHD (In Home Display) shows the amount of CO2 given off by power stations generating the electricity you are using. The calculation is set by Ofgem based on the average amount of carbon dioxide emitted for every kWh of energy generated. The average is for the fuel mix across entire UK energy industry, so may be misleading if you have opted for a CO2 free source such as Wind or Nuclear. (Updated: 2018-06-03)
Why are Smart Meters more accurate?
It is a bit misleading to say Smart Meters are inherently more accurate than traditional meters as they all must meet the same standards
. The improved accuracy is around billing, as meter readings will be collected automatically and stamped with the precise date/time. (Updated: 2017-08-14)
Are there special considerations for the location of a Smart Meter?
When a meter fitter first arrives at your premises they will usually check the signal available with a special tool and decide if the installation can go ahead; in some cases an additional aerial or alternate communications system can be used if the signal is poor. The Smart Meters must be fitted in place of or near your old meters as it is too expensive to move the incoming power cable and gas connection, and not good to have long cables from the main fuse (cutout) to the meter. (Updated: 2018-07-01)
I rent my home. What happens for me?
If you rent your home and pay your energy bill direct to a supplier, the request and installation of a Smart Meter will happen in the same way as those who are not renting. You don't need your landlord's approval but you should inform your Landlord that it is happening in case the suppliers also contact them. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
How does a Smart Meter help me change Supplier more easily?
A Smart meter will automatically provide the supplier you are leaving, and the supplier you are moving to, with the correct meter reading for the exact point of changeover. Often this reading was a point of confusion as there could be different views of the changeover reading between suppliers and the customer.
On SMETS1 and earlier meters there have been problems with customers losing Smart functionality when changing supplier, this is addressed by the new DCC system which supports SMETS2 meters and upgraded SMETS1 meters. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
Can I still switch energy supplier if I have a smart meter?
Yes. Ofgem has put in place regulations to ensure that smart meters do not present an obstacle to customers wanting to switch suppliers. Should a customer have a smart meter installed and wish to switch to a supplier not yet supporting the technology, the new supplier is obligated to take on the customer, and the smart meter will be operated as a traditional meter, meaning you will have to provide meter readings. The new DCC system allows customers to retain Smart functionality when switching between suppliers. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
Who owns the Meter?
Traditionally the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) owned all the meters but the Supplier led rollout means that the suppliers must purchase or rent the Smart Meters. Companies called MAPs (Meter Asset Providers) will now usually own the meters and charge the current supplier a monthly rental fee. (Updated: 2018-07-01)
I live in a block of flats. When will I get a Smart Meter?
Large blocks of flats, say over 20 homes, can have technical problems connecting the Smart Meter to the In Home Display, as the meters are often in a common area at some distance from the room where the In Home Display will be located. The roll-out to these properties will be in 2021 when technical solutions have been investigated and commissioned by a new company set up specifically to find solutions, the Alt HAN Co Ltd
Small blocks of flats are being treated the same as other smaller properties during the national roll-out. (Updated: 2020-02-05)
Can I have a smart meter if I'm a prepayment customer?
Yes. Smart meters work in both credit and prepayment modes. In fact, prepayment customers will have more flexible payment options available to them with smart meters, including remote top-up facilities. (Updated: 2014-12-20)
My supplier says my signal is too weak?
Smart meters communicate through mobile communications and so the signal strength is an important factor to consider for installation.
For SMETS1 meters the installer will usually test on site and make a decision there and then whether to install. If there is not a sufficient signal they will usually walk away.
For SMETS2 there are more options. The communications are provided by the Data Communications Company (DCC) and suppliers can check that a premises has communications before visiting a site. Once on site they can check with a signal checking device if the signal is strong enough in the meter location. If it isn’t they can fit a number of different aerials to try to boost the signal. If that doesn’t work an external aerial or an alternative mesh communications method is available in some areas. Even then they can leave the meter de-commissioned and ask the DCC to get the communications working. (Updated: 2017-02-01)
What is a PPMID?
Customers who opt to pre-pay for their energy should have a fall back means of applying a top up locally to their meter in the event of a temporary loss of WAN communications. This can be most easily achieved with a PPMID (pre-payment meter interface device), which allows the customer to easily enter a purchase reference number. Most suppliers now use IHDs (In Home Displays) with integrated PPMID functionality. (Updated: 2020-02-09)
Who will install my smart meter?
Your energy supplier or an installer acting on their behalf will fit your Smart Meter and In Home Display. Ofgem has enacted the Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP)
, which protects customers by prohibiting sales attempts during installation (unless previous consent has been given by the household). The code also ensures companies will properly explain how the smart meters work, and outlines how households can use the data available to them to improve their energy efficiency. (Updated: 2018-07-01)
Why is my Smart Meter being replaced with another?
The specification for Smart Meters has been developing over the last few years. The latest UK standard is SMETS2. Older Smart Meters which cannot be upgraded to the latest standard will have to be replaced. Most SMETS1 meters can receive a firmware upgrade to make them compatible with the new DCC system and used alongside the SMETS2 meters. (Updated: 2019-10-21)
What is meant by a supplier led roll-out?
Across the world different models have been used for rolling out Smart Meters to peoples' homes. Most countries have chosen the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to do this as they traditionally own the cable to your premises, the main fuse (cutout) and the meter. They were also able to work their way down whole roads at a time. In the UK the suppliers have been chosen to roll-out Smart Meters in order to leverage their relationship with customers to help achieve the benefits forecast including energy saving. (Updated: 2019-10-21)