Smart Meters – Any Good?

smart-meterBefore you ask, no I don’t have one.

And since you ask, don’t get one either!

I’m a geek and I love technology but Smart Meters are actually, pretty dumb.  They shouldn’t be and had this whole thing actually been planned out properly, they wouldn’t have been but alas, we are where we are and there are many reasons why you should put off having a Smart Meter until they force one on you.

Force One on Me?

Yes.  I’m afraid so.  In the Governments infinite wisdom they’ve decided we’re all having one by 2020.

Wait… What Are They?

Smart meters are a next generation meter for both gas and electricity. They are a replacement for your existing meters, which still use technology created decades ago.

Smart meters use a secure national communication network (called the DCC) to automatically and wirelessly send your actual energy usage to your supplier. This means households will no longer rely on estimated energy bills, have to provide their own regular readings, or have meter readers come into their homes to read the meter.

uSwitch, September 2016

‘Next Generation’ – sounds positively Star Trek!  No more estimated bills, no more reading meters – sounds great, right?


99% of us should be switching our household electricity and/or gas suppliers yearly (or more often).  Why?  To save money.  Loyalty is never rewarded in the energy business.  To get the best value for money and the greatest deals, you have to switched at least once a year.

I’ve never had the case where an existing supplier could beat an offer from a new supplier.

Smart Meters, unfortunately are not standardised yet (there are plans for the Government to legislate the standardisation of such meters by 2020, but nothing’s concrete yet).  In short, this means that most of the Smart features potentially only work with the provider that fitted the meter as they all have different types of Smart Meter.  The up shot?  As soon as you switch, you’re Smart Meter is going to be dumb very quickly – back to providing energy readings again (grrr).

Having a Smart Meter will make you less likely to switch – you’ve got used to not providing your readings and getting accurate bills every month, no one can blame you.

New customers are unlikely to be high up the Smart Meter installation list and even once selected into this hallowed group, you could be waiting a month or two until they actually come to install it.  This means you’re likely to be switching provider not long after having your Smart Meter.

Anything that discourages switching is very bad – and most of us don’t do it when we should at the best of times!


Smart Meters sound great – until they break.  And they’ve been breaking quite a lot during this teething phase.

More worryingly, some people are reporting health complaints relating to their Smart Meters (Death Meters anybody?!).

On top of that, they’ve been getting your bills wrong, making energy companies mislead their customers, making fancy pants ‘Energy Monitors’ useless paperweights and being totally hackable (you knew you were paying for next door, right?!).

You may well have a meter with ‘decades old’ technology in, but at least most of the time it’s broadly reliable.

But I Won’t Know How Much Energy I’m Using Without One!!

Login to your online billing area of your utility provider.  Or look at any paper bills you may receive.  Your energy usage should be displayed there over the bill period and other periods such as monthly and yearly averages.

If you’re lucky to be with a great provider – as an added bonus – they may well place some fancy drawings on your bill and say how many times the energy you’ve used could boil and kettle or fill a bath!

I Don’t Want To Give Energy Readings Anymore…

Come on!  Don’t be lazy, snap out of it!  On the list of usual household chores – do the washing, clean the dishes, cook tea, go shopping – spending 60 seconds once a month (or once a quarter) looking at a couple of meters and tapping in the displayed numbers into a mobile app is hardly taxing.

Silver Lining?

They’ll be good one day (probably).  Until then, steer clear.  Keep switching and you’ll likely not be offered one for a while.  Hopefully if the Government gets its behind in to gear and legislates to standardise them all then it may be worth it (or no worse) than having your old trusty meter.  Until then, avoid like the plague where possible.

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