If your energy company has contacted you to change to a smart meter because your current meter needs replacing, it could be a safety hazard not to.
But if you really don't want a smart meter, tell your supplier.
The government has pushed back the deadline for the smart meter rollout until 2024, and you do have the right to refuse a smart meter if you don't want one.
Energy companies have been asked to take 'all reasonable steps' to install smart meters in every home.
If it hasn't already, your energy supplier will contact you between now and 2024 to arrange an installation. But remember that you can still say no to having a smart meter installed.
If you really don't want a smart meter, make this clear to your supplier and they may be able to set up a smart meter to work in 'dumb' mode, with all the communications switched off.
Be aware that if your energy company has contacted you to change your energy meter to a smart meter because your current meter needs replacing (ie it's too old), then you should get it replaced as it could be a safety hazard not to.
Here are some of the concerns people have about smart meters and the roll-out:
Your smart meter records information about how much gas and electricity you’ve used, but doesn’t store other personal information that could identify you, such as your name, address or bank account. Your Energy Supplier will continue to hold your personal details on your account.
All this information about your energy use is strongly protected. The law, which is explained in the Energy UK Data guide for smart meters, puts strict controls on:
It’s your data – you choose what you want to do with it and you can change your mind about how much you share, and how often, at any time. The exception to this if where it is required for billing, and other regulated purposes. So, you can choose:
If you wish to share your data with third parties (for example, energy switching sites to see what tariff you should be on) you have the right to do so.
Your energy supplier will collect meter readings remotely. If you do not make them aware of your preferences, they can collect a daily meter reading.
You will be able to see your near real time energy consumption data on your in-home display. If you want to download more detailed historic data, you can do so from your home network.
Your installer should talk you through how to read and understand your smart meter display.
In the short term, getting a first-generation smart meter could be a barrier to switching suppliers.
This is because first-generation meters don't yet connect to the central wireless network, called the Data Communication Company (DCC).
So, if you get a first-generation smart meter installed and you want to switch to a supplier that doesn't support your smart meter, you may find that the 'smart' functionality of your meter no longer works.
If this happens, you'd have to take manual readings again, like you would if you had a traditional meter.
At some point during the roll-out before the 2020 target deadline, many first-generation smart meters will be remotely connected to the DCC network.
When this happens, you wouldn't have to do anything - it wouldn't require a visit from a technician.
But a third of first-generation meters will need a different solution - and this hasn't been developed yet.
Ultimately, if you have a first-generation smart meter that doesn't connect to the wireless network, you'll need to have it replaced.
Energy suppliers installing smart meters should tell you if you might lose meter functionality when changing supplier.
Smart meters should generally be suitable for most property types, but there are exceptions – for example, if you live in a high-rise flat with a meter in the basement. For more information on this, contact your supplier.
Typically, your new smart meter goes exactly where your traditional gas and electricity meters were.
If you or your housemates are renting a property and you’re paying the gas or electricity bills, you can choose to have a smart meter installed.
Check your tenancy agreement before you commit to getting one, as there might be a restriction in there about how energy is supplied to the property you’re renting.
This could include the type of meter that can be installed.
If your landlord pays for the energy bill, the decision on whether to get a smart meter or not is up to them.
If your tenancy agreement says you need ask permission to alter the meter, you should contact them.
Your landlord or letting agency shouldn’t unreasonably stop you from getting a smart meter.
It’s a good idea to tell your landlord before you get a smart meter installed, even if your tenancy agreement doesn’t say you need to.
Some of us may have to wait longer than others, but you can ask your supplier to see if you can get yours fitted now if you do want one.
Before you are supplied with a smart meter, your energy supplier should contact you to arrange a time and date that suits you.
They should also tell you:
There are also a number of consumer protection provisions you should have as part of your smart meter installation.
These include the following:
If you’re paying more than usual, you get a bill you weren’t expecting, or your smart meter shows an error message, there may be a problem.
If you feel your smart meter is faulty, or not registering your data correctly, contact your supplier – they are responsible for making sure your meter works properly and they should send someone round to take a look at the problem.
Smart meter installers should talk to you about how to use your smart meter, as well as provide advice on important safety issues – such as how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.