Hey, Quidco Member

The pros and cons to having a smart meter

In 2021, we have become more conscious than ever of our energy usage and our own global footprint. There are now more sustainability projects than ever before, and in turn, more people that want to know what they can do to help the environment.

One of those ways is by having a smart meter for your energy usage. 

It’s estimated that over 21 million smart meters are now currently in households in the UK, with more expected over the coming 12 months.

Why are they so popular? Because you can see how much energy you’re using and the cost of it in realtime and that’s not all.

Here’s our list of pros and cons to using a smart meter so you can make a more informed decision on what’s right for you. 

The pros and cons to having a smart meter
The pros and cons to having a smart meter

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is an updated version of the traditional electric or gas meter that you have at home. It shows you a reading of your energy usage, and will send this to your supplier every 30 minutes to ensure you’re only paying for what you use!

Is it worth getting a smart meter?

If you’re on a budget, or you’re constantly questioning the energy estimate that your supplier has sent through to you, then a smart meter could be the perfect solution. For example, you’ll be able to see if you’re spending over your budget and can then limit how much energy you use. 

How do smart meters work?

Smart meters work very simply by using a secure network called the DCC to send your energy usage every 30 minutes to your energy supplier. Much like a standard meter, they measure your energy usage the same, but instead, show you in real time usage and cost. 

Do smart meters need WiFi? 

No, you won’t need WiFi or any internet connection for your smart meter to work as they rely on mobile connections. 

Does a smart meter use my electricity? 

Yes, a smart meter will use your electricity to function, but only the equivalent to, on average, less than £1 per year of usage.

Why are my bills higher with a smart meter?

You might find that your bills are higher with a smart meter and that’s because they provide a more accurate reading than an estimate that your supplier might have been making for previous bills. It’s not because the smart meter itself is costing more, it’s just that your energy usage is now being more accurately monitored. 

What are the pros and cons of a smart meter?

There are many pros to using a smart meter (just ask the 21 million people who currently use them!), here’s our list: 

No more manual meter readings 

It can be such a hassle every month to remember to send a meter reading to your energy supplier, especially if you’re busy doing other things. The worst thing? If you don’t, you’ll end up getting a bill with an estimated energy usage meaning you may end up paying more than you actually used. With a smart meter, the readings are automatically sent to your supplier, meaning you don’t need to do a thing! 

Track your usage and spend 

Ever had an energy bill come through much higher than you expected? Well, you can say goodbye to these with a smart meter. You’ll be able to track your usage and spend in real time so no bills ever arrive unexpectedly! 

No more estimated usage 

Sometimes, energy suppliers will estimate your usage, based on your previous usage on that given month. With a smart meter, they’ll be sent an accurate reading so they’ll never need to estimate your usage again. 

Faulty appliances in the household 

It’s almost impossible to know if you have a faulty appliance in your house, that is unless it starts sparking or completely stops working. But if you see a spike on your smart meter that you can’t account for, it’s a key sign that there’s a faulty appliance somewhere. 

Access to more tariffs

One of the biggest complaints that energy suppliers get is their tariff selection which is why a smart meter can be a good choice. You’ll have access to more energy tariffs than you currently get with your standard meter, meaning you might even be able to get a better rate on your energy!

Are there any disadvantages to smart meters?

Although there are lots of advantages to having a smart meter, much like everything else, they’re not perfect. Here’s a few of the disadvantages to having one in your home: 

They can have poor signal 

If you struggle with mobile coverage in your home, you can expect your smart meter to suffer the same fate, meaning you can sometimes lapse with your reading accuracy. 

They aren’t necessarily cheaper 

A lot of people tend to think that smart meters equal cheaper bills but they don't. Instead, they give you accurate bills based purely on your usage. It’s not a cheaper, more affordable alternative, it’s an accurate, more convenient meter. 

Not all energy suppliers support smart meters 

One of the biggest downsides to a smart meter is that some of the energy suppliers out there still don’t support them. This means that you’d have to actively change your energy supplier if you were looking to install a smart meter in your home.

How to get a smart meter

If you want a smart meter installed, the first thing you need to do is find out if your energy supplier is supporting them and if they’re installing them in your area. 

If they are supporting smart meters, you can arrange for someone to come out to your house to make the switch and install this in your home. This can take anywhere up to 2 hours to complete, and your energy will have to be switched off during this time.

Can you refuse to have a smart meter installed? 

Smart meters are currently not mandatory and you can refuse to have one installed in your home. This could change however as more and more people turn to smart meters, so we advise that you keep up to date with any communications from your energy supplier.

Can you change back from a smart meter?

If you have a smart meter installed but want to switch back to the standard meter, your energy supplier can do this for you but you will incur a cost. Costs vary depending on your supplier and you may be added to a lengthy waiting list for the switch to be completed.

How to read your smart meter

Reading a smart meter couldn’t be easier which is probably one of the reasons why they’re so popular! They’ll show you your energy usage and how much you’ve spent so far, so you see how much electricity you’ve used, for example, and if you want to cut back.

Compare energy with Quidco Compare

Like any other comparison site, we work with the best providers to find you great deals. We'll also give you up to £40 cashback on top when you take out a policy.