All unit costs and calculations correct at the time of publication.

Should you get a smart meter? Here are the pros and cons

It’s not compulsory at the moment to get a smart meter, but with government targets closing in – the UK’s target is for all homes to have a smart meter by  2025 – there can seem like a lot of pressure to make the switch.

On one hand they’ve been hailed as the future of smart energy, they’re helping people to save money and better protect the environment; on the other, they have suffered some teething pains which have frustrated users and given them a bad reputation.  

But, before you make your mind up on whether you should get a smart meter, weigh-up the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is a new generation of gas and electricity meters that are aimed at better monitoring the energy demands from homes and businesses. At the moment this can’t be accurately measured, so a lot of energy goes to waste. However, as we transition to cleaner energy sources and as more people adopt electric cars, a more flexible energy system is needed to actively manage supply and demand. 

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How to get one

So far, around  23.8 million smart meters have been installed in homes and small businesses across the UK. You can either wait for your energy supplier to contact you about arranging your smart meter installation or you can request one yourself by contacting your supplier.

It’s free to have one installed and you get a piece of tech too - a small digital display called an in-home display (IHD) that links to your smart meter and shows your live energy use in cost and energy usage. The IHD is given to you at the time your meter is installed and can look different depending on which energy supplier you’re with.

Got a smart meter?

Loop can get your energy data directly from your smart meter without the need for any extra hardware. The Loop app analyses your energy data and shows you easy ways to use less, save money and cut your eco-impact. On average, Loop users cut their electricity use by 10%.

Link Loop to your smart meter for free and unlock the benefits.

Sign up here to get started.

Pros

1. Access a wider selection of energy tariffs

Smart meters give you access to a broader range of tariffs, including specific tariffs for EV users and those with solar panels. Plus, you can access some of the cheapest deals on the market too. 

2. No more monthly meter readings

Readings are sent straight from your smart meter to your supplier, without any intervention from you. Automatic meter readings are much less hassle!

3. See the energy you’re using in real-time

It may sound simple, but seeing what you’re using and how much it’s costing you can cut the amount of energy you use. It’s called the “Feedback Effect” and most homes can easily cut their electricity usage by 5%! See this information on your free IHD. 

4. Get accurate bills

Say goodbye to estimated bills! A smart meter will help you avoid any inaccurate bills and you will always be billed for only what you use. 

5. Reduce your environmental impact

Installing a smart meter won’t in itself reduce carbon emissions. But it's one element of a smarter grid, and a smarter grid could lead to faster adoption of electric vehicles, electric heating and smart appliances, all powered by cleaner, greener electricity.

6. Make use of free tech

With no cost for the installation or the IHD, having a smart meter is a great way to get hold of a free bit of tech. Especially when you link it with Loop. Unlock all the benefits that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to access! Track your usage, become energy-efficient, test how solar could work for you, easy switching to a cheaper tariff...all for free! 

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7. Future-proof your home

If you’re thinking of installing solar panels you’ll want to do it as cost-effectively as possible, which is where the Smart Export Guarantee comes in. To be eligible you need a smart meter to make sure your energy supplier receives accurate readings on the energy your solar panels export, so you can get paid correctly. 

Cons

1. Older smart meters can become ‘dumb’

One of the main reasons smart meters get a bad rap is from the first generation smart meters which lost functionality when customers switched energy tariffs. In these cases, the IHD would stop working and become ‘dumb’ which meant customers would still need to give manual meter readings.

However, second generation smart meters have since addressed this problem so you should be able to switch energy suppliers without any interruption to your energy readings, bill payments or gas and electricity supply.

2. They can’t reduce your bills alone

Smart meters can be a helpful starting point for anyone seeking to improve their energy efficiency and save money. But if you want greater and more personalised support for your energy-saving ambitions - including personalised data recommendations and help switching supplier - then a system like Loop is the next step along.

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3. Privacy concerns

Whilst there are some concerns that personal energy usage data could be passed to third parties, there are currently laws in place prohibiting energy suppliers sharing this information without consent from the customer. 

4. Technical faults

Like all technology, things can go wrong. However, rest assured that if you do get a technical fault and your smart meter can no longer give automatic readings, then you can go back to giving manual readings until it’s fixed. 

5. IHD life-span

Smart meters need replacing every 10 years, which can seem like a hassle if you’ve never thought twice about replacing your traditional meter. But with all the added functionality and technology, installing a smart meter can still be worthwhile. 

6. Hidden costs

While it’s free to have a smart meter installed, the full cost of the smart meter rollout is ultimately recouped by all bill payers through higher energy bills. With the full cost of the smart meter rollout over £11bn, this could work out at £374 per household.   

Now you know the arguments for and against, will you be rushing to book your smart meter installation? 

As with all new technology, improvements are made all the time to increase efficiency and smart meters are no different. But ultimately, if you’re looking to future-proof your home, cut your carbon footprint and reduce your energy bills, then installing a smart meter is a great first step.

• • •

With Loop, you can find out how you use electricity, then make smart decisions about using less. 

Got a smart meter? Great news! Link the Loop app and enjoy full access to all Loop benefits for free, no purchase required. 

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