With the smart meter rollout across the UK being in full swing, energy suppliers are emphasising the many ways in which a new meter can help with accurate bills, and even saving money. Whilst smart meters are without a doubt useful in keeping track of your energy consumption for instance, we have compiled a list of the top disadvantages you may encounter when installing a smart meter.
Top 10 smart meter problems
Despite their benefits, smart meter issues can range from their rollout to the installation itself. If any of these smart meter problems ring true, it might be time to give your energy supplier a call.
My smart meter has turned dumb
If you’ve got a smart meter and recently switched energy supplier, you may find that your meter has lost its smart functionality. The most common cause of this is that you had a sMETs1 smart meter. These first generation smart meters can only be read by the supplier who installed it. Annoying? Yes, that is why sMETs1 meters are no longer being installed. The second generation of meters aims to overcome this problem, although there may still be an adjustment period during which your smart meter will temporarily lose its functionality.
Switching energy suppliers becomes difficult
If you’ve had a first generation meter installed, you may want to switch suppliers when it’s time to get a new deal. It should be simple, right? Unfortunately however sMETS1 meters first need to be updated to be able to keep their smart meter functionality. Once this done, you might further find that many energy suppliers are selective in offering good deals to customers on certain meter types. To avoid getting into this situation, we recommend waiting to be offered an up to date second generation smart meter when given the choice. These allow you to access a larger pool of great energy deals, while keeping up with the latest smart meter technology.
Poor signal prevents the smart meter from working
Smart meters communicate with energy suppliers using mobile technology (network coverage) and a weak signal can disrupt this connection. If you live in certain rural areas or those notorious for having bad mobile phone signals, the chances are that a smart meter may struggle to work in your house.
Smart meter stops sending readings
To the previous point on poor signals, if you get weak coverage in the area you live, this can sometimes stop your smart meter from sending readings at all. While your supply won’t get cut off, this could lead to delayed energy bills and confusion among households.
Understanding your smart meter monitor
One of the potential disadvantages of smart meters comes with understanding how to read and use your smart meter monitor. While the average consumer is well-versed in pennies and pounds, kilowatt-hours and other energy terms can be difficult to decipher for most elderly and vulnerable customers. Some smart meters have a colour display indicating whether your energy usage is in a green, orange or red zone. Most monitors however require some basic understanding on how energy is measured.
Smart meters pose a risk to security
Although smart meters send meter readings to your energy supplier, they do not store or pass information such as your name, address and bank details. Smart meters were designed in consultation with the UK’s top security experts. While information is transmitted via a secure network, there is always small risk of cyberattacks compromising or altering data.
Existing meters are hard to access
A lot of current meters were designed not to be replaced or removed. That makes replacing them sometimes difficult as they were installed in either hard to reach places or without much thought to future technology innovations. Luckily most energy suppliers will take care of this by sending their own engineers to do the hard work for you.
Renters can’t install smart meters
Under the law, whoever pays the energy bills at a property has the right to a smart meter. Even if you’re renting, you can overrule your landlord if you want one installed. However, there is one loop-hole available to private homeowners - if the tenancy agreement specifically states that no smart meter may be installed, then renters will unfortunately have to follow that stipulation. A good piece of advice is therefore to always thoroughly check your agreement before signing, and advocating for the option of getting a smart meter installed.
The smart monitor changes language
Like all pieces of technology, smart meters can malfunction sometimes. True story - some smart meter users in England and Scotland have experienced their smart monitor’s screen displaying data and information in Welsh, even though they clearly not in Wales. To switch your display back to English:
- Press the 'OK' button at the bottom of the in-home display, and then the right arrow button until you see 'Gosodiadau Wedi anfon yr'.
- Press OK to go to settings.
- Press the right button until you see 'Dewis iaith Wedi anfon yr'. (If this doesn't work, you may need to try the next option, 'Clirio Gosodidau Wedi anfon yr'.)
- Press OK.
- Select English on the left, by pressing the left arrow, then 'OK'.
Over the top smart meter sales pitches from energy suppliers
Even though smart meters and their installation are free, that hasn’t stopped some energy suppliers from aggressive tactics to get switches. Saying no to a smart meter is your right as an energy customer and if you feel pressured by your supplier you can make a complaint or apply for the Priority Services Register.
Smart meters increase fear amongst vulnerable energy users
Although smart meters can help you keep track of your energy use, they could also drive up anxiety with elderly or low-income households if they’re constantly reminded of what they’re spending. This could lead to people depriving themselves of adequate heating or lights. One possible plus side of smart meters, if the technology evolves, is that they could be used to monitor the energy use of those in need of assisted living. If a smart meter can tell if someone’s lights or gas hasn’t been used in a while then it could be a tell-tale sign that they might need help.