A wider roll-out of switchable smart meters is in danger of being delayed AGAIN, after the Government announced it's considering extending the deadline by which companies must stop installing first generation smart meters.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has today begun a six-week consultation on delaying the 5 October deadline for stopping installing the meters - which don't always maintain smart capabilities when customers switch supplier. The proposed new deadline would be 5 December.

If the extension were to go ahead, it would not be the first delay to the roll-out - as companies were originally supposed to stop installing them by this month, before the deadline was moved back in January.

The first generation of smart meters, known as SMETS1s, don't always maintain their smart functions - such as the ability to send automatic meter readings - when customers switch their energy supplier, but the second generation of meters - SMETS2s - do.

If you have a first generation meter, you will be able to upgrade it so that it retains its function after switching. An exact date for this hasn't been set yet, but it will be around the end of the year.

Find out more about Smart Meters in our guide.

I've already got a first generation meter - can I switch energy providers?

If you've got a SMETS1, you can switch providers, but it's likely that if you switch away from the supplier that installed it, you'll need to go back to giving manual meter readings.

However, this shouldn't stop you from switching - most can save more than £300/year by swapping supplier. To check you're always on a cheap deal, join our Cheap Energy Club.

What does the Government say?

A BEIS spokesperson said: "While energy suppliers have started rolling out second generation smart meters to their customers, we want to ensure a smooth transition for consumers so we are consulting on extending the deadline for first generation installations."

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB - the national campaign for the smart meter roll-out - said: "Some people with first generation smart meters have had problems maintaining smart functionality when switching energy suppliers, but it's important to remember this is a temporary issue and that a smart meter will never stop you switching to your chosen provider."