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Question mark over £11 billion roll out of smart meters. Do you need one to save money anyway?

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jan 12, 2018

Do smart meters really save you money on energy?

A major review of smart meters has been ordered to see whether they actually save people money.

The review could halt the huge rollout of the meters to millions of homes around the country 

The study is designed to "assess the current economic case for the rollout of smart meters and look at whether the government is on track to achieve its target to roll out meters by 2020".

The fact is that, despite big hopes that people would constantly monitor the meters and then go and turn a kettle off, or similar, people don’t seem to be doing that!

The truth is simpler – there’s only one sure-fire way of ensuring you don't pay more than you need to, and that’s to shop around for the cheapest fixed-rate deal you can find. And keep looking regularly because the market is constantly changing.

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The government has a deadline to install 53 million so-called smart meters at a cost of £11 billion over the next two years. But with the 2020 deadline looming, a total of just 8.6 million have been installed so far.

Plus, the IT system that enables meters to send data to suppliers hasn’t even been launched yet, and is already three years overdue – it was due to go live in 2015.

Smart Energy GB, is responsible for the rollout and its boss Sacha Deshmukh told the BBC that eight out of ten people were happy with their smart meters. They are "very happy with the meters and would recommend them to their friends and family".

The National Audit Office is expected to publish its report this summer.

What does a smart meter do?

They send automatic readings directly to your energy supplier, making the bills more accurate, and bringing an end to estimates.

You also get an in-home display that shows exactly how much energy you're using and what it's costing you in pounds and pence, in near real time.

Both your smart meter and in-home display will be installed by your energy supplier for free.

Will I save money with a smart meter?

The technology is forecast to save £16.7 billion by reducing people’s energy use – that’s a saving of around £43 on an average bill.

But this requires that users actually monitor their usage.

And some users have experienced difficulties with installations, inaccurate bills or loss of the meter's 'smart' features when they switch suppliers.

Do I have to have a smart meter fitted?

Just like water meters, you can’t be forced into having a smart meter fitted, although your supplier may try and persuade you to do so.

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