If you’re considering getting a smart meter installed, then it pays to know the advantages and disadvantages of them beforehand. We all know that they can help you keep track of your energy bills, with most energy providers offering them as standard nowadays.
And although many agree that switching to using a smart meter is a good idea, some people would still prefer not to make the change – even though energy switchers like LAMB will recommend you do.
It’s still not compulsory for you to have a smart meter installed, although all companies do have to at least offer them to their customers. So, let’s look at the pros and cons of smart meters, and whether it’s a good idea for your to make the leap and switch over to using one.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Smart Meters
Of course, the main advantage of opting to go for a new smart meter is that it’ll enable you to easily see your energy usage at home. The fact that you can upgrade to a smart meter typically free of charge is another factor to consider too, as there’s really no reason for you not to upgrade.
And when it comes to gas and electricity, you want to ensure that you’re getting the right meter readings. Smart meters can generally help you to get a good idea of your estimated energy bills based on your previous ones from the past year, as it’s likely to stay at a similar price if we compare them annually.
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But there are a few downsides to them too, especially if you’ve already got one installed and you’re thinking about switching energy suppliers. And with energy costs on the rise, there are still those that think the smart meter disadvantages outweigh the positives. Let’s look at both the good and bad things about smart meters.
Advantages of Smart Meters
Don’t need to read them manually
Of course, the main benefit of using a smart reader as opposed to using a manual meter is that you’ll never need to send over your readings to your energy supplier again. Instead of in the olden days, when you had to venture into the cupboard to see what your electricity usage was, nowadays this can all be done in an automated manner.
Smart meters are actually relatively simple to use and even easier to read. You can even get a simple app to use on your phone that can tell you exactly how much energy you’re using on a regular basis. And actually, most smart meters come with an in-home display anyway, which can be easily used to see more estimated bills from both your gas and electricity meter.
And a smart in-home display will help you to know your overall energy consumption over time, and you should be able to see the usage in both kWh (kilowatt hours), but also in pounds too. This makes it super easy for you to track your energy consumption over the course of a year, and it can help you to know whether you may want to think about switching to new energy supplier.
If you’ve ever forgotten to submit your energy usage to your supplier in the past with a manual meter, then you’ll know how frustrating this can be. When this happens, your company will estimate how much money you’ll have used that month, which likely isn’t going to be very accurate.
A smart meter can make sure that you’re paying exactly what you’re supposed to each money, and not a penny more. You should be able to submit reader meetings over your phone, and more accurate bills will tell you how you can curve your energy habits if need be too. The majority of companies have an app you can use on tablets or mobile phones, which is another reason to go smart over standard meters.
Awareness of our energy use
It’s common for people who are used to using a manual meter to just check their readings routinely and send them over to their supplier. But smart meters give us a more interactive way to see how much energy we’re using.
Having this easy access to see your electricity and gas use can make us much more aware of just how much energy we’re using on a daily basis. You can even test things for a month and see if you end up saving money over the course of things. If you’re in the habit of leaving all of your electrics on at night, then try turning everything off at night and seeing how much money you can save.
Disadvantages of Smart Meters
Now, although it’s mainly positives when it comes to smart meters, there are a couple of issues that you can run into. Poor signal on your mobile has typically been one reason why people have avoided smart meters, but nowadays, that doesn’t tend to be that much of a problem. Here’s a couple of things you may run into though.
sMETs1 are annoying
The most common problem that people face with their smart meter is the inability for it to be read by their new energy company. A good example of this is Octopus Energy, which is fully compatible with sMETs2 smart meters.
However, Octopus Energy isn’t compatible with most sMETs1 meters. This means that if you sign up to their energy service, and you have a sMETs1 smart meter, then it isn’t going to work with the smart functionality. It will still work as a normal manual meter, but it won’t work as a smart meter, which can be a bit annoying.
As technology advantages, this problem should be resolved within the next few years and all energy suppliers should be compatible with both sMETs1 and sMETs2 smart meters and be able to read them. But for now, this is the biggest annoyance of using a smart meter.
Hard to Switch Suppliers
If you have a sMETs1 smart meter installed, then it can be a bit difficult for you to switch over to certain smaller energy companies. This is frustrating, as smaller energy companies are usually the ones which can provide you with the best value deals. If you haven’t had a sMETs1 meter installed, or even if you have, then make sure that you get a sMETs2 installed instead.
But this shouldn’t matter too much if you’re looking to install smart meters this year, as most companies are up to date with them now.
It might not work properly
A common problem with smart meters is that people living in rural areas end up struggling to get a good connection as the signal isn’t strong enough. However, when the smart meter is installed, the technician should have checked that the signal in your house is strong enough to support a smart meter. So, it should undoubtedly be strong enough to send the readings through to your energy supplier.
sMETs1 vs sMETs2 – What’s the difference?
In general, the main difference between these two different smart meters is that the sMETs2 provides better security than the sMETs1. With the sMETs2, you can actually change your energy supplier and it will still be compatible and work smartly. However, if you switch with a sMETs1 meter to a new company, then it’ll no longer function as a smart meter.
Do you need wifi for a smart meter to work?
Although you may have read so online, you actually don’t need need a wifi connection to get a smart meter. They don’t work via your wifi connection, though they do work via a wireless connection that isn’t quite the same. So, no, don’t worry about having a working wifi connection if you want to get a smart meter installed.
Is a smart meter more expensive?
No, a smart meter will definitely not be more expensive than using a manual meter. If your energy bill has recently increased, then you should be looking elsewhere as to the reason why your bill has increase, because simply switching to using a smart meter won’t cause this to happen.
How do you know if you have a smart meter?
If you’ve just moved in somewhere and you’re not sure whether you have a smart meter or not, then you can easily ask the landlord for access to the energy account that the house is using. In here, you should be able to see if you’re using a smart meter, and if you’re not, then you can request one.
Is it worth getting a smart meter?
Nowadays, it’s probably worth getting a smart meter if you haven’t already. Although it’s not going to make a drastic change in your household, it will make things just a little easier than they were before, as you’ll easily be able to gauge your energy usage.
Although you might not have upgraded to a smart meter as of yet, it’s probably time that you do so. They’re free of charge to everyone in the UK, so there’s really no reason not to have one. As smart meter technology improved, they’re only going to get more and more accurate too.
As you can see from this article, the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages, so it could be a good idea to get one installed now. Many energy suppliers will actually offer you one free of charge, as it’s likely that laws will come into play eventually that enforces this anyway.