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Get smart meter smart

Posted on 6 January 2016

Smart meters are currently one of the hottest topics in the energy industry. By 2020, they’ll be rolled out by all energy suppliers as standard across the country. And at Co-operative Energy, our smart meter trial is already underway in preparation for this exciting change.

Although set to bring with them an abundance of benefits, many people are still a little confused as to what a smart meter will actually do. That’s why we’ve put together a handy selection of frequently asked questions, to help you get smart about your smart meter:

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are the next generation of meters, and will eventually replace your current gas and electricity meters. By 2020, all UK energy suppliers will have rolled them out as standard.

Smart Meters bring a number of benefits for our customers including:

  • Accurate billing – smart meters can be read remotely by your energy supplier, leading to an end of estimated billing.
  • Usage information - Real time and historic information about your energy consumption including information about how much it is costing you, helping you to save energy and money while lowering your carbon output.
  • Smart prepayment – convenient payment methods. With online or smartphone app payments, there will be no more need to dash to the shop to top up.

Will I have to pay for my Smart Meter?

The overall cost of your smart meter and its maintenance will be included as part of your energy bill in exactly the same way as your existing gas or electricity meter.

Will I have to have a smart meter?

You aren’t under any legal obligation to have a smart meter fitted. However, we think the benefits from Smart Meters will mean that most people will want to have one fitted. Just read on to see what they are!

What are the benefits of having a smart meter?

  • Saving energy and money – Smart meters come complete with a handy portable in-home display device (IHD). This allows you to quickly view real-time and historic information about how much gas and electricity you’re using – and how much it’s costing you. Once you've built up your own consumption history, it’s easy to compare your energy use with similar periods in previous years or, for example, by month in the same year. This makes it easier to spot patterns and lower your carbon output and energy bills.
  • Only paying for the energy you use – Information about your energy consumption will be automatically transmitted back to us, so apart from occasional meter safety checks, you should never need to let a meter reader into your home, or provide us with a meter reading again. This also means an end to estimated bills, so you'll only be paying for the exact amount of gas and/or electricity you use.
  • Convenient payment methods – Including smart prepayment. With online or smartphone app payments, there’ll be no more need to dash to the shop to top up.

How do smart meters work?

Smart meters are able to communicate wirelessly with your energy supplier via common communications networks. These are based on Telefonica’s mobile phone network in south and central England and Wales, and on long wave radio for the north of England and Scotland.

How does a Smart Meter take a meter reading?

One of the benefits of having a smart meter is that the meter will automatically send us meter readings, meaning you will not have to read and provide us with them. However, you will still be able to read your smart meter as often as you like.

Are there any health concerns about Smart Meters?

Smart meters are covered by UK and EU product safety legislation, which requires manufacturers to ensure that any product placed on the market is safe. Public Health England provides advice and information on the health implications of smart meters, as it does for a range of technologies commonly found in homes and businesses across the UK. Further details may be found on Public Health England’s website.

What about my data and personal information. Will this be safe?

The Government has created a robust security framework for the operation of smart meters in Great Britain, working with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the data security arm of GCHQ. All energy suppliers must undergo regular external audits to ensure that we continue to safeguard your data.

Co-operative Energy also operates its own strict Privacy Policy. In addition to these protections, you are able to control the level of detail about your consumption data we can access. This data guide, developed by Industry and Consumer Futures (now part of Citizens Advice) provides further details.

And finally, when will I get my Co-operative Energy smart meter?

The UK Government is requiring energy suppliers to fit smart meters in every home in Great Britain by the end of 2020.

To make sure we are able deliver a reliable smart service to all customers when the time comes, Co-operative Energy is now trialling smart meters with a small group of customers.

We don’t yet have a set date for when smart meters will be rolled out to all of our customers, but we will let you all know in plenty of time as soon as we’re ready. Please note that we are not currently taking new customers onto the trial. 

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