The government has a target to offer every household in Britain a smart meter by the end of 2025, but how do you get one? Here we’ll outline exactly where you can get a smart meter from, how it is installed, what to expect from your smart meter and more.
How do I know if I can get a smart meter?
Almost every home in the UK is eligible for a smart meter. By 2025 the UK government aims to offer a smart meter to everyone. They are not doing this directly however, instead it is being done through energy suppliers who have targets to hit in rolling them out. The Smart Energy GB website explains the government’s rollout plan, and how your supplier is responsible for fitting any smart metering equipment.
The easiest way to get a smart meter therefore is through your supplier. All suppliers have targets and all suppliers will be trying to roll out smart meters to their customers as quickly as possible. They are easy to get and are completely free, but there are several steps you will have to go through before your meter is up and running. We will use Octopus Energy as our example, but it will be a similar process with most suppliers. You won’t have to pay upfront to have a smart meter installed – smart meters will be paid for through everyone’s energy bills, just as old-style meters are.
Step 1: Starting the process to get a smart meter
Step one is to register your interest in a smart meter with your supplier. You will likely have to do this through their online customer portal but it is possible they will also send you a letter or email that you can reply to showing your interest. Once you have registered your interest, you will then need to wait to hear from them to get a meter reading.
Step 2: Book an installation appointment
Suppliers use third parties for the installation of smart meters and because they need a qualified engineer to physically install them, they focus on certain geographic areas at a time. If your area is one deemed a priority (possibly due to high demand) then it is likely you will get your smart meter installed faster but you could still be waiting months. For areas deemed a lower priority, such as Scotland, you could be waiting longer.
Once a smart meter roll out is taking place in your area, you just need to book an appointment to get a smart meter. Your supplier will contact you when you can do this and you will likely need to complete an online form to book it in. Importantly, someone over 18 will need to be need to be available for the duration of in installation, even if the meter/s are being installed outside.
Step 3: Get your smart meter installed
On the installation date you will likely receive a text or email giving you an update on when an engineer will arrive to install your smart meter.
An engineer from your energy supplier will come to your home to install the smart meter and you will need to be home while the installation takes place.
They will need access your existing gas and electricity meters which they will then remove and replace with new smart meters in the same location. The engineer will need to turn off the gas and electricity supply for a short period to do this (usually less than 20 minutes).
Note: Smart meters for your gas supply, also known as smart gas meters, are similar in size to traditional gas meters. A smart electricity meter tends to be slightly larger. If you are wondering if it will fit where your existing meter is, the general guidelines are as follows: Your existing meter should have approximately 30 cm of free space on either side and in front to comfortably install a smart meter. (If you are in any doubt, contact your energy supplier before installation.)
After installation, the engineer will test the smart meter to ensure it is working correctly and setup your In-home Display (IHD). Once they are happy with the installation, they will talk you through how your smart meter and IHD work and answer any questions you may have.
The whole process takes around 1 hour per fuel (so 2 hours if you are having a gas and electricity smart meter installed).
The engineer will take away your old meters and any rubbish from installation process, leaving you with a new meter, an IHD and possible an instruction manual or leaflet.
Is installation safe?
Yes. All engineers that fit smart meters have undergone training and hold accreditation to do so. You can always ask to check their ID card for proof of their competence. They will always take the necessary precautions to make sure the smart meter is installed safely. This includes turning off the gas and electricity supply while installing smart meters and making sure everything is working correctly before they leave.
Step 4: Getting connected
Once your smart meter is setup, it won’t instantly be supplying data to your energy supplier. Normally within a few days you should be able to see you usage on your suppliers website/app but it can take up to two weeks. You also won’t see much on your new in-home display (IHD) at this time. During that time you may find that one energy shows up before the other (if it was a dual fuel installation), this isn’t a problem and given some time the other will likely start displaying too.
Step 5: Start using your smart meter
You now have a fully functioning smart meter, congratulations! You no longer need to manually provide readings to your supplier and will no longer have estimated bills. You can now also use it to look at ways to cut your energy costs and bills and also switch to smart meter only tariffs, like the Octopus Agile tariff.