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Smart meter rollout delayed until 2024

Energy suppliers are to be given an extra four years to offer smart meters to every home in the UK, under a new timetable announced by the Government this week.

The Government had previously set a 2020 deadline for the rollout, but on Monday it proposed giving firms until 2024 to install them in all homes, due to delays in connectivity and issues arising with the meters already in use.

It also revealed it expects only half of households to have a smart meter by 2020.

A consultation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the proposals closes on Monday 11 November.

See our Smart Meters guide for a full explanation of what they are and how you can get one.

What are smart meters and what are the problems with them?

Smart gas and electricity meters are being installed by energy companies. The meters send automatic meter readings straight to your supplier, theoretically ending estimated bills. They are free to get, and all homes are supposed to be offered one by energy firms in due course – but they are not mandatory.

First generation 'SMETS1' meters frequently stop working when you switch supplier, so you'd need to start doing manual meter readings again if you did so. 'SMETS2', the newer type, allow you to switch while keeping your meter's functionality.

The Government-backed Data Communications Company (DCC) is supposed to be installing infrastructure to ensure the older meters work and that technology is in place so newer versions can connect to the shared networks.

But it has recently been reported that some meters are still losing their smart capabilities when their owner switches suppliers.

What do energy firms say?

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the energy sector's trade association Energy UK, said: "Suppliers have been working tirelessly to meet the 2020 deadline and offer all households a smart meter, so that as many customers as possible can benefit by saving energy and money – as millions of smart meter owners have already reported.

"The energy sector is committed to working with the Government and other partners to complete the rollout, so we will now consider the proposals in detail to ensure they are deliverable and do not place unreasonable costs on consumers."

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