All you need to know about smart meters

Introduction

Over recent years you may have heard about the role out of smart meters across the UK, which make it easier to manage your energy use and bring an end to estimated billing. A smart meter tracks your energy use, and sends it over a secure mobile network to your supplier, meaning the end of submitting meter readings manually. How secure are they, and what if you want to change supplier? And The really big question, what about accessibility? Read on to find out more.


Getting a smart meter

A smart meter is free to have installed, and is done by a qualified person who works for a third-party organisation on behalf of your supplier. The time for installation typically takes 1 to 2 hours, in which time your existing meters will be removed and replaced with smart meters. If you have a supply for both gas and electric, 2 smart meters will be included.


How do they work?

The smart meter comes with an in-home display, known as an ‘IHD’, which is a small battery operated device which can be carried around your home, and placed in to a supplied charger to recharge the battery. The display allows users to track energy usage, such as what is using most energy at a particular time, as well as allowing users to set budgets if on a pay-as-you-go tariff. The smart meter is responsible for uploading your data to your supplier. The smart meter works on a secure mobile network, and will not need a separate mobile connection. Its secure because only your energy usage is transferred to your supplier, nothing else which identifies you. Any software updates are done remotely over the secure network. Your smart meter may not work if there is no mobile signal at your property though, and may cause problems when attempts to upload data due to signal failure.


How accessible is it

Smart meters are being rolled out starting from June 2019, after a trial period to ensure that the IHD is accessible. Once available, it is possible to ask for the accessible smart meter as required, which again will be installed for free. The smart meter will have tactile buttons, voice output, and contrast options as required.


General Limitations

At the time of writing this blog, I asked some of my colleagues here at DAC on their views of smart meters. One colleague told me that the IHD would be difficult to sea, and they were waiting to sea what features the smart meter had. Another colleague informed me that the mobile signal was not good enough to send a signal to the energy provider, so it was not possible to have one installed. My own personal experience is that a smart meter could not be installed at the property where I live, due to the location of the meters, and the structural design making it difficult to remove and include new meters. In conclusion, it really does depend on a number of factors weather or not a smart meter will be installed, and of course accessibility is a primary concern, however its not the only obstacle. For further information on smart meters go to The Ofgem website.