The Government’s goal is for all consumers and small businesses in the UK to have a smart meter as part of its current roll out, led by the Data and Communications Company (DCC). By the end of the programme, which began in 2016, around 53 million smart meters will be fitted in over 30 million premises. But consumer awareness and understanding of smart meters can be confused and misinformed. So, our very own Phil Mansbridge looks to de-bunk some of the common myths associated with smart meters and encourage people across the UK to make the move to smart meters:
Can Smart Meters prevent freedom of provider:
One of the common misconceptions around smart meters is that customers can’t switch energy provider. The new second-generation meters will simplify switching between suppliers and make it easier for consumers to search for better tariffs and secure better deals, while having access to innovative prepayment options. These capabilities will empower households to get a full handle on their energy consumption and associated costs.
Can I have payment flexibility with a smart meter?
There are a range of flexible options for payment. For example, prepayment empowers customers to have greater control, enabling them to fit their energy consumption in around their lifestyle whilst also reducing the chance of falling into debt and improving energy efficiency. But for consumers to reap the full benefits of prepayment, it is now down to both existing and new energy suppliers to step up to the challenge and start innovating with a range of prepayment options for consumers. Smart meters and their central, national communications hub will make it easy to switch to prepayment options – which can deliver real benefits to consumers derived from the lower cost to serve and through closer monitoring of energy usage.
Is pre-payment just for customers with a bad payment history?
Historically, prepayment has been seen as a tool to overcome some of the issues surrounding fuel poverty and the difficult to pay market. Now, it’s time to educate and inspire consumers by ‘switching on’ to a new way of thinking, by exploring new types of prepayment schemes. But, the industry is equally reliant on the energy suppliers switching on to offering new tariffs that incentivise smart usage. Just as we pay for petrol at the point of purchase, based on what we predict we will need/use, prepaying for energy can work in the same way, using an app connected to your smart meter. For customers who currently have a pre-payment meter, it’s important to note that when all meters are exchanged for smart meters, they will be then be able to operate both in credit and pre-payment modes and move seamlessly between the two.
Will smart meters mean my bills will go up?
No, in fact the opposite is true. Smart meters will more accurately track your energy usage and thus eliminate the need for estimated reads. This enhanced, accurate data will also enable the prediction of your future usage. This information can then be used intelligently to alert consumers when they are likely to run out, enabling them to purchase more energy by prompting them to ‘top-up’ easily and quickly via an app or some other means. We at Generis firmly believe that prepayment adoption will become increasingly popular and cost-effective for consumers as the smart metering roll out gathers momentum.
Can my energy firm cut off my supply through my meter?
It is possible to energise and de-energise (connect and disconnect) a customer’s smart meter, but this would always be an energy supplier’s last resort. All energy suppliers will have an in-depth customer debt strategy, and termination of supply through a meter or other means will always be the absolute last resort. Customers are dealt with on a case by case strategy and vulnerable customers will always be handled differently and as a priority. For customers facing difficulty with their payments, Smart Meters can be set to pre-payment mode which enables a customer to manage their payments and repay any debt that may have been accrued.
Is my data is being shared through my meter to third parties?
The data from the meter going through the DCC is fully encrypted, so when the adoption of older smart meters is complete and all meters are running through the DCC, there will be a greater level of data security. However, personal details such as a customer’s name, address and bank account details are not stored on or transmitted by the meter. Your supplier can’t use any data from your smart meter for sales and marketing purposes unless you give them permission to do so.
As the energy market digitises and becomes more sophisticated, Smart Meters form part of that transformation offering both consumers and businesses the ability to access accurate billing and provide customers with choice in finding the best deals and the most appropriate payment options.