Smart meters were introduced into UK homes back in 2006 in an attempt to make tracking your energy usage easier, allowing you to see how much energy you’re using throughout the day. On top of this, they also allow your readings to be sent directly to your supplier, meaning more accurate bills and no trying to find your gas meter reading and submitting it manually! Whilst the government announced a scheme to roll out smart meters to every home in the UK by 2020, there is still no legal obligation on you to have one.
So what happens with our smart meter when you want to switch your energy supplier and get a better deal? With over half of UK households on default Standard Variable Tariffs, auto-switching is more important than ever, meaning this is the question on many homeowner’s lips.
The answer depends on what type of smart meter you have, as there are currently two types in UK households. Newer smart meters, known as SMETS2 meters, are compatible between suppliers, meaning they will still send your usage data to your supplier regardless of which supplier you’re with. Older smart meters, known as SMETS1 meters, will not automatically work with any supplier, and you may need to upgrade your hardware in order to provide your readings automatically to your supplier.
So why are old SMETS1 meters still in circulation? Well, soon all suppliers will have to stop installing them – the deadline has already passed for the majority of energy suppliers, but it comes into full effect on the 15th March 2019. This means that any smart meter installed after this date will have to be a SMETS2 meter, compatible with any supplier via the national network.
But wait… don’t throw away your old SMETS1 meter just yet! In order to ensure that older meters work even when you switch, another national initiative was launched which connects your old SMETS meter to a network operated by the Data Communications Company (DCC). By launching a central network, the DCC has enabled older meters to communicate with any supplier, meaning you can switch freely without worrying about your smart meter turning ‘dumb’. This migration is already underway and is expected to be complete this year, meaning the switching process is set to become even easier!