Smart meters are coming 😱

Maddie Inglis, Energy explained

4th October 2018

Smart meters are coming. This will be a game changer in the energy industry, and we’re buzzing about it. 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 SMETS1 smart meters in our customers' homes now. So if you want a smart meter – book an installation appointment through your online account dashboard or get in touch with our team and we’ll sort it.

No Country for Old Meters: The government’s smart meter roll out, as it stands

You’ll know by now: the government has pledged to get a smart meter in every UK home by 2020. This is a pretty huge project to undertake, meaning there’ve been some unforeseeable speed bumps and setbacks - though as of right now, nine million smart meters have been installed across the country, so the government’s roll out plans are well on their way.

Smart Tech: the SMETS Generation

The current smart meter being installed by all UK suppliers is known as SMETS1. It’s 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 government is working on sorting this out pretty soon, making SMETS1 interoperable between all suppliers. At the same time, an upgraded smart meter, SMETS2, is on the way. Despite some delays in the development and trialling process, SMETS2 is currently being live tested and is predicted to be on the market in the next year or so.

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.

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.

If you want to get going with a smart meter, just get in touch with us or book in an installation appointment right from your online account.

Get Smart: read our smart meter FAQs

Can I have one now?


YES! We are installing SMETS1 smart meters now, so if you’re keen to get going, just get in touch with us or book in an installation appointment right now from your online account.

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’re hope that all smart meters will become interoperable (work with all suppliers) 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 😊