Smart meters - Are they all they're cracked up to be?

Smart meters. We’ve all heard of them and by 2020, all 53 million homes in the UK are set to receive one. But it seems that not all of you are pleased about that. Our latest research found that 5.6 million households aren’t keen about having a smart meter installed, despite the benefits they can bring by helping to reduce your energy consumption, and ultimately your bills. 

Not so smart meters?

We quizzed over 2,000 adults and found that more than 1 in 5 (21%) would not have a smart meter fitted in their home if they were given the choice. Most of those questioned (55%) seemed to be concerned with “the way in which data is collected” and how it would then be protected. That comes even when Smart Energy GB, the voice of the smart meter rollout, has confirmed that any data collected is strongly protected by law  and that you the customer will ultimately have control over how it is used. 

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Peter Earl

Head of Energy

“This research suggests that there’s been a failure to sell the benefits of smart meters to the wider public. High profile issues with the cost of the rollout, as well as compatibility and data problems with the first generation of smart meters, has meant that they’ve been in the news for the wrong reasons.” 

Despite all of this...

The case for smart meters is strong, and the government-backed rollout means that we will all be getting one. So how can they help you? 

Surprising bills

Our research also revealed that many of you underestimate how much you pay for your energy. When asked how much they thought they spent on energy each month, those surveyed gave an average answer of £64, or £768 per year. However, we calculated that households are actually spending an average £85 per month, which is £1,020 per year! That’s a gap of more than £250 per year – quite a difference.** This is potentially creating serious budgeting issues for British households, at a time when inflation is increasing and household spending is falling.

But the good news is that while some of you are worried about smart meters, many of you have already discovered some of their benefits. Around 6 million people have had smart meters installed so far. Many of you (4.5 million) are keen to make use of them to understand your energy usage better by making the most of the easy-to-use interface and real-time reading capability. 3.7 million of you highlighted that smart meters would provide them with more accurate bills too – which could make life easier for many of us.

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Peter Earl

Head of Energy

“In principle, smart meters will help people keep a better track on their energy usage, engage more with how they use their energy, and get more accurate bills. There’s hope that the technology will help inform people of exactly how much they’re spending on their energy – which should really help households budget more effectively, given a lot of people currently think they’re paying less than they really are!

“Although the teething problems have been well documented, once smart meters are in and working well, they will absolutely shift the energy industry. Despite the saving from switching for those who have never switched before being around £2004, there’s still a lot of inertia around switching suppliers which stems from confusion around how bills work. With smart meters, that should all fall away.”

So if you’re keen to find out more about smart meters or wondering when you’ll be getting one, why not check out our smart meters hub where we give you the answers to all the questions you may have. And if you’re interested in saving a few pennies, why not have a look to see if we can find you a better deal on your energy? It could make all the difference. 


 Approx. no of households

20,000,000 on a standard variable tariff1

6,994,000 on a fixed tariff


 Average tariff cost





 Estimated total UK energy  cost




Estimated average UK household energy cost         £1,020.00

For more information visit our media centre.

3 Source: OFGEM Bills, prices and profits. Based on average dual fuel, direct debit and available paper tariffs from the six large suppliers at July 2017

4 Source: OFGEM Bills, prices and profits. Based on dual fuel average available paperless tariff paid by direct debit with typical domestic consumption values at July 2017.

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