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Getting a smart meter installed

This advice applies to England

Smart meters are a new kind of gas and electricity meter gradually being introduced across Britain as part of a government scheme.

A smart meter can automatically send meter readings to your supplier, meaning they can bill you accurately for the energy you’ve used.

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.

A smart meter won’t automatically save you money - you’ll have to be proactive to reduce your energy costs. The best way to do this is to use the digital ‘in-home’ display that you’ll be offered with a smart meter to keep track of how much energy you’re using. You can then try to reduce it. Read more about saving money on your energy bills.

When you’ll get a smart meter

Your supplier should contact you to tell you exactly when you can get one. If they don't, you can contact them to ask when that might be.

If you get a new meter installed or an old meter replaced, your supplier will probably give you a smart meter.

You can contact your supplier to see whether they’ll install one in your home as soon as possible.

You should ask your supplier if your new meter is a second generation smart meter - this is also called a ‘SMETS2’. Older smart meters might not work properly if you switch supplier. You might want to shop around and see if any other suppliers can offer you one. If they do, you’ll need to switch supplier.

Refusing a smart meter

You don’t have to accept a smart meter if you don’t want one. If your supplier tells you that you must have one installed, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

If you refuse a smart meter, you might find it hard to access all tariffs. This is because in future the cheaper tariffs offered by suppliers might only be available to customers with smart meters.

You can ask your supplier to switch off your smart meter's extra functionality. This means it’ll work in the same way as your current meter, and won’t send any information to your supplier. Your supplier will only switch off the extra functionality in exceptional circumstances - contact them to check if they can do this.

If you’re worried about your meter sending daily meter readings to your supplier, you can choose to opt-out and only send one reading a month (this is the minimum your supplier will need to be able to bill you).

Your supplier might want to collect more detailed information than daily meter readings. They must get your permission to be able to do this.

Switching supplier

Once you have a smart meter, you’ll still be able to  switch energy supplier as before. Suppliers can't refuse to supply you with energy because you have a smart meter.

Check if your supplier will take automatic meter readings or if you'll need to submit them.

If you’re told by a supplier that you can’t switch supplier because you have a smart meter, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

If you decide to get a smart meter

Your supplier is responsible for installing your smart meter and making sure it works properly - they should:

  • explain the process beforehand
  • show you how to use your smart meter
  • give you a copy of the instructions
  • tell you how to use energy efficiently

They should also give you a number to call if anything goes wrong, or if you think your meter isn’t working properly. For example if you can’t see usage details on your in-home display.

Coronavirus - if you're getting a meter installed in your home

If you’re ill, self-isolating, or worried about a home visit, tell your supplier. You should be able to rearrange the meter installation.

If your supplier can’t finish the installation

They should tell you what the problem is and rearrange the installation. They also need to make sure your meter is safe before they leave.

Get help

You can get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you have any issues with smart meters.

Smart Energy GB has more information about the benefits of smart meters and how they should be installed.

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