Smart meters are coming 😱

Maddie Inglis, Tech

23rd January 2019

Smart meters are here. These are energy industry game changers, and we’re buzzing about their potential. The technology will save UK consumers a lot of time (no more meter readings!) and with innovative electricity tariffs like our Agile Octopus and Octopus Go making the most of the smart meter tech, potentially a fair bit of dough too.

As part of the government’s pledge to get smart meters in all UK homes by 2020, we’re installing them in our customers' homes now. We've temporarily paused new bookings as we're super busy with smart meter installations, but if you're interested in getting a smart meter, get in touch with our team.

Read our CEO Greg's update on the status of the smart meter rollout here.

No Country for Old Meters

The government’s smart meter roll out, as it stands

The government’s smart meter rollout is a pretty huge project to undertake, meaning there’ve been some unforeseeable speed bumps and setbacks - though as of right now, over thirteen million smart meters have been installed across the country, so plans are well on their way.

Read our CEO Greg's update on the status of the smart meter rollout here.

Smart Tech: the SMETS Generation

What’s the story with SMETS1 and SMETS2?

There are two types of smart meters currently being installed in the UK. The earlier model, SMETS1, is what’s going into the majority of homes at the moment. SMETS2, the updated version, has just finished its live testing and is slowly being rolled out.

So what’s the difference between the models?

SMETS1 is miles ahead of a standard credit meter, but it can’t always be transferred with ease between suppliers and retain its smart functionality. This means that if, say, British Gas installed your smart meter and you decided to switch to Octopus, your smart meter would revert to functioning like a standard “dumb” meter. You’d have to give manual readings again and your In-Home Display might not work.

The updated SMETS2 can be transferred between suppliers without any faff, leading many people to wait for SMETS2’s release so they don’t lose the benefits of their smart meter when switching supplier.

This might seem like a big discrepancy between models, but in fact, the arrival of SMETS2 should mean existing SMETS1 meters can be made transferable between all suppliers, too. The new smart meter sends all data to a centralised body called the Data Communications Company (DCC), instead of sending it directly to suppliers. It’s very likely that SMETS1 will be programmed to send data to the DCC — even ones that are already installed — meaning soon SMETS1, too, will be transferable between all suppliers.

As Good as it SMETS: Why should you get a smart meter?

Smart meters are, believe it or not, pretty exciting. Not only will they save you the hassle of conjuring up a meter reading with your own weary fingers, but they have the potential to save you tons of money, making you more aware of your energy usage and unlocking a wealth of game-changing tariffs.

Agile Octopus, for example, is a 100% green tariff with half-hourly energy prices based on the wholesale price of energy, saving you even more money than one of our fixed tariffs, helping to balance out heavy demand on the grid and making the most of the clean energy generated out of peak times.

Your smart meter means:

  • No more manual meter readings – your smart meter will send them to us automatically.
  • No more estimated bills – as we take the readings ourselves, we never need to estimate, meaning you’re always billed for exactly what you use.
  • Efficient usage – you can see how much energy you’re using, and what it costs, through the In-Home Display
  • You can access smart tariffs – our Agile Octopus tariff changes the price we charge for your electricity every half an hour, so you can start to use more when it’s cheaper. And our Octopus Go tariff for electric vehicle owners offers a super-cheap rate for four hours each night, so drivers can charge up for next to nothing.

Want to get going with a smart meter?

We've temporarily paused new bookings as we're super busy with installations at the minute, but if you're interested in getting a smart meter, please do get in touch with our team to seek further advice. Stay tuned. We'll be opening the books again soon.

We’ve installed our first few SMETS2 meters, and are currently waiting for a new batch of these before we can start our rollout of the newer model in earnest.

We can’t guarantee you a SMETS2 meter if you book an installation appointment now, but will keep you updated with information about our SMETS2 rollout as we have it.

Get Smart: read our smart meter FAQs

Can I have one now?


We've temporarily paused new bookings as we're super busy with installations at the minute, but if you're interested in getting a smart meter, please do get in touch with our team to seek further advice. Stay tuned. We'll be opening the books again soon.

Will my smart meter work with Octopus?


We use the smart meters made by the company Secure. Secure also supply meters to Utilita, First Utility, OVO, E.ON and Bristol Energy - so if you have a smart meter from them, and it’s a ‘Secure’ meter, it will work. (A different brand of meter from them unfortunately won’t.)

I’m leaving Octopus - will I be able to use your smart meter with my new supplier?


It’ll work if you’re leaving us for Utilita, First Utility, OVO, E.ON, or Bristol Energy, but if not, it will again become “dumb”. We recommend checking with the new supplier to find out what your options are.

My smart meter became "dumb" when I switched. Will it become smart again?


We expect that all smart meters will become interoperable (work with all suppliers) later in 2019. The current smart meters were only designed to send data to the supplier who installed them, but ultimately all smart meter data will begin to be sent to a central body called the Data Communications Company (DCC). And hopefully, at this point your meters will become smart again.

What happens if my old meter is broken?


If your meter is broken, we will fit a SMETS1 smart meter to replace it.

What’s this I hear about smart meters causing health problems?


We’ve written about this previously. The low-frequency radio waves used by smart meters are classed as safe (with emissions considerably less than TVs and mobile phones), and leading public bodies including the World Health Organisation have been unable to find any conclusive evidence of harm.

And what about security issues?


Smart meter technology is being built with security squarely in mind and follow the highest encryption protocols. We keep our ear to the ground for the latest research into the viability of smart meters, and we’re confident that the technology will benefit all of us rather than causing harm.

Robert Cheesewright of Smart Energy GB (the government-backed agency promoting the smart meter rollout) has assured that the meters are securely encrypted, and even so, the only data stored on the meters is energy-related –

“your name, address, bank account or other financial details are not stored on the meter.”

Will I be able to get an old “dumb” meter if I want one?


Eventually, it’ll be virtually impossible to get a standard meter. Like classic car parts, they’re becoming scarce as the demand for newer, better technology increases. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to keep manufacturing obsolete technology. So if your standard meter breaks, your only option for replacement could be a smart meter. If you’re worried about this, get in touch with us. You’re not legally obliged to have a smart meter installed.

Can I get a SMETS1 now and a SMETS2 later?


At the moment if you ask us for a SMETS1 meter now, we won’t automatically replace it with a SMETS2 later, though we’ll constantly keep an eye on things to make sure that’s still the best decision.

If you’ve got any other questions, get in touch and we’ll help.

Hey! Just so you know, your device is fully charged and you're still charging it. Removing the charger will avoid degrading your battery 😊