How to get a smart meter for free

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Here at WeFlip we like doing things for free. We don’t charge when we switch you to a much better energy tariff, for example, and we don’t charge when we keep on switching every time an even better deal catches our eye. That’s what the word ‘free’ means, after all. How many times have you snapped up a ‘free’ offer, only to find out it depends on you spending a certain amount of money (which we think sounds pretty much like the opposite of ‘free’), or accepting certain terms and conditions? Well, we like to take the word ‘free’ and pull off those quotation marks. That’s why we don’t just explain how to get a smart meter, we explain how to get a smart meter for free. 

What is a smart meter?

That’s a very good question. A standard meter is a ‘dumb’ meter. It records how much gas or electricity you’re using and then, when you want to tell your supplier so that they can charge you the correct amount, you have to go through the ordeal of reading your meter. It can be a painful thing to do and you might be inclined to do something more fun instead… like cleaning the toilet or defrosting the freezer.  

A smart meter, on the other hand, communicates directly with your suppliers, telling them exactly how much gas and electricity you’re using. If you’ve ever had to deal with estimated bills that are either too high or too low, you’ll appreciate just how refreshing this could be. 

At the same time (you’ll like this), the smart meter will communicate with an In Home Display (IHD). This is a device that looks a bit like a smart phone and tells you exactly how much energy you’re using, as you use it and, even more usefully, how much it’s costing you. Direct communication with your suppliers doesn’t have to mean you being kept out of the loop. Forget about trying to turn kilowatt hours into pennies and pounds using a formula created by NASA, you can switch an appliance on and see, right then and there, how much it costs to run. That’s why so many people say ‘I want a smart meter’, because knowledge is power, and the knowledge of how much power you’re using (see what we did there?) is money in the bank. It’s also the answer to the following question… 

Are smart meters worth it?

Well, we’d probably leave that up to you, but one thing that definitely counts in their favour is the fact that you can get one for free (not ‘free’ in inverted commas, remember), and that’s pretty much our definition of worth it. 

This is how you do it:

  1. First of all you have to find your supplier and ask about their schedule for installing smart meters. The government has said that gas and electricity suppliers have to provide smart meters for every customer in the UK by 2020, so they should have a timetable set out. If you’re not sure who you’re supplier is (which is much more common than you might think), then pay a visit to the Energy Networks Association. Simply enter your postcode to find the name of your supplier.
  1. When you know who your supplier is, you can contact them directly, or pay a visit to Smart Energy GB, who will connect you with the relevant part of your energy supplier’s website. Once you’re on the right website, you simply have to put in a request for a smart meter. Exactly when your supplier meets that request depends upon whether they’ve rolled out smart meter installation in your area or not.
  1. If you don’t want to wait to have a smart meter installed, then you could always use that as another reason to switch providers. Find a supplier currently installing smart meters in your area and see if they have a tariff which is better than the one your current supplier is offering. Two birds with one stone.
  1. Once you’ve established that your supplier is installing smart meters you can chose a date and then just sit back and wait. On the day itself, a qualified installer will come to your home and:
  • Show you their official ID 
  • Explain how to use your smart meter system and what it does 
  • Install the meter (or meters), which takes a couple of hours, and then talk you through operating the meters and using the IHD 
  • Leave contact details in case you need any help or information at a later date

That’s it. Without spending a penny you’ve entered the brave new world of 21st century metering and – to be serious for a moment – taken a big step toward monitoring and controlling your energy use. Not only will this save you money, but it will also (and this is why the government is committed to rolling out smart metering) help you to cut consumption and play a part in saving the environment.

You know what’s even more satisfying than monitoring your spending with a smart meter? Cutting that spending by getting WeFlip to switch your suppliers.