Why smart meters may not be so smart

Smart energy meters seem like a great idea. Not only do you, the consumer, get a real time reading of how much gas and electricity you are using, but your energy company also receives automated meter readings that should lead to accurate bills without the hassle of reading the meters yourself.

A Smart meter recording electricity usage

Your energy company will also offer to install smart electricity and gas meters for you free of charge, so it seems to be a win-win situation and you are even helping the Government meet its target for all households to be using smart meters by the end of 2020.

So why do I not want smart fitted now? Why do I want to wait until 2018 to benefit from these technologies?

SMETS version 1 meters

Let me introduce you to the acronym SMETS, which stands for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications. SMETS is an industry standard that specifies how smart meters work, and most importantly how the meter connects to, and communicates with your energy supplier.

SMETS version 1 meters contain a SIM card that connect to your energy provider via 3G in a similar way to the way that your mobile phone works.

So the SMETS 1 meter can be set up to contact your energy company at a set interval – once a day, once a week, or even hourly if you need that level of resolution with your energy usage reporting.

That sounds good, but the problem is that when many consumers have switched energy supplier, they have been told that the new company cannot read the data from their smart meters. Some of the newer, smaller, companies such as Bulb cannot read data from smart meters at all!

Some suppliers like Bulb are offering great savings and you can even earn money too.

This is not the end of the world, and is definitely not a reason to not switch to a better energy deal, but it does mean that your smart meter suddenly becomes dumb as far as sending reading to your new energy supplier.

You have to resort back to taking manual readings and sending them to your energy company. Back to the bad old days, though you do still get the real time readings if you are looking at ways to cut your energy bills, or are obsessive about how much energy your household is using at any one time.

If you have smart energy meters installed in 2017, you will be supplied with SMETS version 1 meters. Read on to see why this is not something that I want..

SMETS version 2 meters

So now let me introduce you to the latest version, SMETS version 2 meters.

SMETS version 2 meters still give you real time monitoring of energy usage, but the major difference between them and the version 1 variant is in the way that they communicate with the energy suppliers.

Instead of using 3G sim cards, SMETS version 2 meters communicate over a Government data network so they are more compatible with a wider range of energy provider. In fact so far 40 energy companies, including smaller energy suppliers, have signed up to this new specification.

Switching energy suppliers will be far easier when you have SMETS version 2 meters installed.

It is also very likely that your new company will be compatible with your meters so your smart meters remain smart, even if moving from a ‘Big Six’ supplier to a much smaller company.

I don’t want SMETS version 1 meters but DO want SMETS version 2 meters

Although SMETS version 1 meters might be converted to the SMETS version 2 specification, most will have to be replaced. Imagine how long that is going to take?

You see, once you have your smart meters installed, even though they will be SMETS version 1, you have helped fulfil the Governments’ pledge, even though your meters will become obsolete in early 2018 when the SMETS 2 specification and Government data network is rolled out.

There will be no hurry for anyone to come along and either upgrade your meters to version 2 specifications or replace them for the new models.

You will be stuck with your old style meters which will become dumb when you switch, whilst everyone else, from 2018 onwards, will be getting the latest meters that remain smart whichever energy supplier they use.

I am saying NO if my energy supplier wants to install SMETS version 1 meters

Switching energy supplier is quick and easy and is something that I would encourage everybody to consider.

Say No

I like the idea of smart meters, but I want my meters to remain smart for years to come. SMETS version 2 meters will make it even easier to switch energy supplier – even switching the next day!

If my energy supplier wants to install version 1 meters, I will say NO! So should you!

Be in the know about this controversy

Not many people know about this SMETS version controversy. They are willingly allowing their energy company to install the older version meters, without realising that they will be lumbered with meters that become obsolete meters as early as next year.

I am saving money by switching energy deals, but I don’t want to let obsolete energy meters hamper switching in the future.

You should be smart by asking which type of meter is being installed and wait until you are told that you will be the proud owner of SMETS version 2 meters.

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