Here at weflip, we like to do everything we can to help our customers. First and foremost, we track down the best tariffs and make switching a quick and painless process. Secondly, we offer advice on using less energy. A lot of the time this advice is fairly low tech in nature – things like putting a cardigan on instead of turning up the heating, and setting the thermostat one degree lower than you normally would. Basically, all the things your granny was telling you to do ages ago, but you ignored her because, hey, what do people who’ve been around years and years know, right?
Some bits of advice aren’t quite so low tech, however. For a start, the way we track down and round up the best deals on gas and electricity uses the very latest in computing power, as well as our finely honed hunting skills (our tech nerds asked us to add the second bit). Secondly, we like to offer detailed advice on bits of kit like smart meters. There are a lot of myths about smart meters. Some people think they’re like a robot version of a standard meter, or perhaps an ￼Economy 7 meter that can talk. Others are convinced that smart meters spy on us (and if that’s true we feel really sorry for the poor ￼secret agent who has to jot down the fact that Mr Jenkins in Grimsby spent three hours roasting a chicken this weekend).
More seriously, you might worry about whether you can have a smart meter with a ￼prepayment meter, if a smart meter will ￼interfere with solar panels and simply ￼how to read a smart meter. Why worry when you can contact weflip – we’re more than happy to answer your smart meter questions and set the record straight about a few of those myths.
How do smart meters work?
Smart meters do two exciting things. They send readings to the supplier on how much energy you’re using, and they do it automatically, which means you’ll never have another estimated bill again. The other exciting thing they do is use the same wireless technology to send signals to an in-home display (IHD). This means that you can use the IHD, which looks a bit like a smartphone display, to monitor how much electricity and gas you’re using in real time and, more importantly, how much it’s costing you. To every parent reading this, that means you can let your teenage children know, to the penny, how much it costs every time they forget to turn that light out.
Are smart meters compulsory?
The short answer to that question is no, smart meters aren’t compulsory. The government, in the hope that they’ll encourage us all to use less energy, have made it compulsory for energy suppliers over a certain size to offer smart meter installation to all their customers. But if you don’t want a smart meter, you don’t have to have one.
Can I refuse to have a smart meter?
Apologies for repeating ourselves, but if you don’t want a smart meter you don’t have to have one. If you don’t want to find out exactly how much it costs to fill a bath full of hot water, then you can carry on just guessing.
Are smart meters worth it?
You may well think that a standard meter gets the job done, and that when you can switch with weflip and take advantage of the best tariff, over and over again, forever, it’s probably not worth having a smart meter. The point is that few things help you to save money on energy more than knowing exactly what you’re using and how.
Unlike standard meters, which tell you what you’ve used over a period such as a week or month, and leave you to turn the likes of kilowatt hours into cold hard cash – not the kind of maths we’re all fond of doing – a smart meter acts like a taxi meter, with the added bonus that you don’t have to give your energy supplier a tip.
Can smart meters be hacked?
The short answer to this is that it’s very unlikely, and wouldn’t really matter much anyway. It’s unlikely because smart meters use a private wireless network to communicate, not the public internet, meaning that security levels can be kept extremely tight. Even if the smart meter communications could be hacked, they don’t include any personal or financial information, and would leave a very disappointed hacker looking at lots of details of how much electricity it took to keep your Christmas lights on. It might just be us, but we reckon they’ve got better things to do with their time.
What are the side effects of smart meters?
Many people ask ‘are smart meters dangerous?’ on the basis of the fact that they communicate with each other, with the IHD and with your energy suppliers, using low-level radio waves of the type used by mobile phones. As with mobile phones, rumours of health risks have been examined in laboratory conditions and dismissed. Public Health England (PHE) carried out extensive tests and published results stating that the level of radio waves transmitted by smart meters is well below the international safety guidelines.
Are smart meters transferable between suppliers?
Since we’re addicted to switching for the sake of savings for our customers here at weflip we’d be sorely disappointed if you couldn’t transfer your smart meter between suppliers. That’s why we’re so pleased that having a smart meter doesn’t stop you switching suppliers, although there are a couple of conditions:
- If you have a first generation smart meter (SMETS1) then it may become an old fashioned ‘dumb’ meter when you switch suppliers, at least until a remote upgrade sorts things out. In the meantime, it’ll still transmit information to your IHD, just not your suppliers.
- Second generation smart meters (SMETS2), on the other hand, will stay as smart as the day they were installed. It’s almost like they’re getting – wait for it – smarter.
There’s been some controversy regarding smart meters and solar panels, the issues centering upon whether the meters can measure the electricity the panels generate and export. The good news is that the big energy suppliers will fit smart meters if you have solar panels, and that the glitches are being ironed out.
All in all, a smart meter can play a big part in helping you to monitor and control the money you spend on energy. Combine it with the auto switching service offered by weflip and you could end up being £350 a year better off, according to Ofgem data.