MSE News

One-third of smart meters at risk of 'staying dumb' after energy switches

There's a risk that a third of first generation smart meters may 'stay dumb' after a billpayer switches energy supplier, a Government report has revealed. 

At the moment, the current generation of smart meters – known as SMETS 1 – often go 'dumb' when you switch away from the supplier that installed it, essentially reverting back into a traditional meter.

In its latest consultation, the Government has said it will require around two-thirds of the 12 million smart meters to be manged by the Data Communications Company (Smart DCC) – which will handle all the meter reading information and send the data to suppliers. These meters will retain smart functionality when switching supplier. 

But whether the remaining third of SMETS 1s will be accommodated is unclear. The Government says it will consult further, but does not have sufficient information to make a decision at this time. 

It has also confirmed that the wider roll out of fully switchable next generation smart meters – SMETS 2 – has been delayed again to 5 December, following a separate consultation earlier this 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 SMETS 1 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.

Will my first generation meter become 'smart' once more?

This latest consultation confirms that at least two-thirds of smart meters will be connected to Smart DCC at some point – this will allow them to start working in 'smart' mode again. Those makes are: Aclara, Honeywell Elster, Itron and Landis+Gyr meters

This is expected to be a 'remote' upgrade to the meter – so nobody should need to come visit your home. However, details of how and when are still sparse. 

It's also unclear what will happen to the remaining SMETS 1 meters – from the brands Secure Meter and EDMI – as the Government says it has insufficient information to make a decision on whether these will get the same upgrade. 

What about second generation smart meters?

Some suppliers are installing these meters now – though very few have actually made it into people's homes.

According to the Government, around 47,000 second generation smart meters (SMETS 2) were installed by the end of September 2018, compared to 12 million first generation meters (SMETS 1).

Claire Perry, Energy and Clean Growth Minister, said: “We already have 12million smart meters operating across Great Britain. We’ve announced new measures to ensure suppliers are installing the next generation of smart meters and setting out how we’ll ensure all devices stay smart when consumers switch suppliers to get the best deals.

“Ofgem has a full range of enforcement tools at its disposal, including fines.”