Smart Meter FAQ

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What are smart meters?

You may have noticed that there is a lot of noise being kicked up around smart meters lately, with every home in Britain due to have one installed by 2020.

But what exactly is a smart meter, what does it do and why should you get one?

A smart meter is the next generation of gas and electricity meters. These will automatically send meter readings directly and securely to your energy supplier giving you a much more accurate bill.

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Why are smart meters being introduced?

In the UK, our energy system is quite dated which means that it isn’t as efficient or future proofed as we need it to be. In an effort to update UK infrastructure and tackle climate change, the government wants every home in Britain to have a smart meter to encourage more people to pay attention to the energy they are using and therefore become more efficient at managing their energy.

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What are the benefits of smart meters?

The first, most obvious benefit of smart meters is that they’ll automatically send meter readings through to your supplier on a half-hourly, daily or monthly basis. That means that you won’t need to remember to send a reading, have to dig through a cupboard to find your meter or wait for a meter reader to visit.

By providing us with regular readings, we’ll be able to know exactly how much energy you’re using. That means no more estimated bills.

You only pay for what you use.

What’s more, you can easily monitor your usage and make changes within your home in order to bring your bills down further. 

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What is an in-home display?

Glad you caught that! An in-home display, or smart energy monitor, is a device that’s included with every smart meter, which will show how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence. What’s more, this data will be displayed in almost real-time so you can figure out exactly what is using energy in your home.

How you use this information is up to you, but there is lots of potential to use your energy more wisely - and maybe even find culprit appliances which aren’t as energy efficient as you were led to believe.

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Can I switch to Good Energy if I already have a smart meter?

Yes, you can. But unfortunately we’ll have to treat your meter as traditional or dumb until late 2018, which means you’ll need to send us regular meter readings for accurate billing.

If you’re planning on switching to us please make sure that you can access the meter and can take meter readings from the screen.

p.s. You’re awesome for wanting to switch!

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Do I have to have a smart meter?

If you don’t want a smart meter you don’t need to have one, but we are obliged to contact you when we start to roll them out to make sure that you haven’t changed your mind. 

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Will I need to pay for installation?

No, smart meter installation is free.

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How do I get a smart meter?

Don’t worry, we’ll get to everyone! We’re working with our carefully selected smart installation partners to make sure that all our customers receive one by 2020.  You’ll hear from us with more information closer to the time that we’ll be installing in your area.

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Could a smart meter help me save energy?

Yes. A smart meter is a very good tool to monitor and manage your energy consumption. Keeping an eye on your consumption can help you find more ways to cut it down, saving both energy and money. On its own, of course, the smart meter won’t prevent energy waste but it is a valuable enabler to greater home energy efficiency.

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Is Smart Pay As You Go (PAYG) the same as a smart meter?

They’re similar, but not the same. The actual meter is the same, it still lets you monitor exactly how much energy you’re using – the biggest difference is the way you pay. A pay as you go plan is just what it says on the tin – you pay as you use energy, instead of paying in monthly or quarterly instalments.

Unlike the old prepayment meters, most Smart PAYG meters can be topped up from anywhere using your phone or the internet.

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Do you need an internet connection?

We know what you’re really asking here: “Will a smart meter affect my Netflix streaming?”. Luckily, the answer is no.

You don’t need a WiFi or internet connection in order for a smart meter to work; instead they use the same sort of technology that you would find in your phone, which shouldn’t interfere with anything.

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Will a smart meter capture my personal data?

Absolutely not. The only information a smart meter sends out is related to your energy usage and this data is encrypted to a very high standard, making it very secure so that only you and your energy supplier can see the data.

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Are smart meters safe?

Yes, the smart meters that we install are as safe as possible and are fully covered by both UK and EU product safety legislation. This means that they have had to undergo rigorous testing to make sure they are stable and secure so as not to put our customers in danger.

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Do smart meters harm the environment?

This is something that we’re really concerned about here at Good Energy and we’re monitoring the available research as carefully as possible to make sure we can keep environmental harm to a minimum. We are already taking steps to ensure that everything we do aligns with our ethics - and if for any reason this falls out of line, then we will reconsider our approach and make changes.

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Do smart meters emit radio waves?

Smart meters use low-frequency radio emissions to communicate the information they collect, in a very similar way to other wireless electronic devices, like mobile phones and televisions.

Public Health England, an executive agency of the UK Department of Health, has collated various studies, reviews and assessments to measure the effect of smart meter radio waves. They have concluded that:

  • All the evidence so far suggests that the radio waves produced by smart meters don’t pose any risk to the health of people who have them in their home
  • Using a mobile phone would give you greater exposure to radio waves than living with a smart meter
  • Smart meters aren’t communicating all the time – just in occasional short bursts when they’re actually sending the supplier information
  • You would get higher exposure to radio waves from any device you use closer to your body, which emits more power and which transmits for more of the time – such as a mobile phone.

If you’d like more details, please take a look at the Public Health England (PHE) guide to smart meters.

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Will Good Energy offer time of use tariffs?

Good question! This is something that we already offer via Economy 7 and 10 tariffs, but with the arrival of smart meters we expect to be able to be even more flexible with our tariffs. This could mean future tariffs which offer “off-peak” energy pricing which existing customers could benefit from.

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Are smart meters compatible with all suppliers?

If you already have a smart meter it is likely that it will not work with other energy suppliers in the short term if you decide to switch. That’s because for the first generation of smart meters different energy providers use different technologies which aren’t compatible with each other. This means that if you do decide to switch, other suppliers may have to treat your smart meter as traditional or ‘dumb’. If that happens then you’d have to take regular meter readings for accurate billing. However, you may still be able to use your in home display to work out how much energy you are using.

The good news is that before 2020, any first generation meters already installed should be compatible with all energy suppliers through a remote upgrade at no extra charge to you.  

So until then it’s worth checking with the energy supplier you’re looking to switch to, to see if they can support your existing smart meter in the short term.

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What smart meters are you rolling out?

 

We will be rolling out the second generation of smart meters also known as SMETS2 meters in late 2018. We’ve taken the decision to hold off installing smart meters until then to ensure that they will be compatible with all energy suppliers.

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I have poor mobile phone coverage; will this affect my smart meter?

 

Yes, sometimes your smart electricity meter may have trouble communicating with us because of signal issues in your area. This means that we won’t be able to receive automatic meter readings but don’t worry there are a few ways we might be able to help you resolve this so please just get in touch.

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How do smart meters communicate with my energy supplier?

 

Your smart electricity meter communicates with your other smart devices and technology via two wireless networks: the home area network (HAN) and wide area network (WAN). 

The HAN is a secure network that works a bit like broadband.  It allows your smart electricity meter to communicate with your smart gas meter and with your In-Home Display (IHD). It will also be able to communicate with other smart devices when they become available.

The WAN is a network between your smart meter, the Data Communications Company (DCC) and your energy supplier. The DCC was set up by the government to be responsible for collecting and passing data between your meter and supplier - a bit like a mobile phone network.

Once your smart electricity meter has gathered readings from your smart gas meter it uses the WAN to send them, together with your electricity readings, to your energy supplier.

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What are your plans for when you do roll out smart meters?

 

We’re busy working hard on what exciting products and services we can offer our customers. To keep up to date with our progress why not check out our blog at goodenergy.co.uk/blog/

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Will you supply me with an In Home Display when you do roll them out?

 

Yes, we will be offering all our customers an In Home Display but we’re also looking into what other interesting things we can offer…Watch this space!

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Glossary:

 

WAN

Short for wide area network, the WAN is a network between your smart meter, the Data Communications Company (DCC) and your energy supplier.

 

HAN

Short for home area network, the HAN is a secure network that works a bit like broadband.  It allows your smart electricity meter to communicate with your smart gas meter, your In-Home Display (IHD) and other smart devices.

IHD

Short for in home display, it’s a small screened device that shows how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence in real time.

 

DCC

Short for Data Communications Company, the DCC was set up by the government to be responsible for collecting and passing data between your meter and supplier - a bit like a mobile phone network.

 

‘Dumb’ or traditional meter

This is the opposite of a smart meter where gas and electricity meter readings have to be taken manually.

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