Published: 18/02/2019
  • Over a third (35%) who have switched provider have noticed that their smart meter no longer works
  • 48% think that having a smart meter hasn’t helped them save money
  • Nearly a fifth (19%) of smart meter owners think the government should scrap the smart meter roll-out.

January 2019 – The majority of smart meter owners do not know that their devices may be rendered ‘dumb’ by switching energy provider. New research by comparethemarket.com, which polled over 1,200 smart meter owners, reveals that 58% did not know that their smart meters are likely to be ineffective after switching provider. This equates to over 7.2 million UK households*.

Of those who have checked their smart meter since switching supplier, 35% say that it has lost its smart functionality. A third (32%) of smart meter owners say that they would not have allowed their smart meter to have been installed if they had known about the ‘interoperability’ issue. Effectively, this equates to four million households who regret getting a smart meter**.

To date, suppliers have installed more than 12.5 million of the first generation of smart meters – the so-called ‘SMETS1’ model. Around 70% of these have ‘interoperability’ issues, which essentially means that they lose their smart functionality and connection to the network – their ability to track energy consumption and for that information to be sent directly to the energy provider – when someone switches supplier. The second generation of smart meter – SMETS2 – which addresses this issue, is in the very early stages of roll-out with just 140 thousand so far connected to the network.

There have been widespread reports about hard selling tactics and smart meters being pushed onto customers by energy companies, as they struggle to meet government-mandated installation targets. This is backed up by comparethemarket.com’s research, which finds that 15% of smart meter owners have been coerced into getting a smart meter, with their energy provider “insisting” that they had to have a smart meter installed in order to have access to the tariff they wanted to move onto.

When it comes to the energy consumption and cost savings that smart meters are intended to enable, there is evidence to suggest that they are not performing these critical functions. More than half (51%) of smart meter owners don’t believe that having a smart meter has made them cut down on their energy use, and a similar number (48%) say that having a smart meter has made “no difference” to the amount they pay for their energy.

Households are increasingly becoming disillusioned by the smart meter scheme and fed up with a device which promises to save them money but fails to do so. The research showed that a fifth (19%) of smart meter owners think the government should scrap the smart meter roll-out altogether.  

Peter Earl

Head of Energy
Compare the Market

“It is no secret that the smart meter roll-out has been littered with problems from the start. However, it is pretty shocking to see just how many people remain in the dark about the interoperability issues with their SMETS1 meters and how few people realise that they could be rendered ‘dumb’ more often than not on switching provider. We are concerned that this will put some people off switching and the potential of saving hundreds of pounds in the process.

The SMETS2 rollout has been delayed and delayed. It is absolutely critical that those homes yet to have been offered smart meters are issued with the newer model and that the old SMETS1 meters are either replaced – or updated to enable connection to the network – to address this interoperability issue. Whatever the case, we believe that the cost of the roll-out now outweighs any consumer benefit. We would not recommend SMETS1 smart meters to our customers.”  

Notes to editors: The results are based on a survey, conducted by Populus, the polling house, of 1,219 smart meter owners. The survey was conducted between 26th and 29th November 2018.


From p6 key facts. More than 12.5 million SMETS1 smart meters have been installed
58% of 12.5m is 7.25 million

**32% of 12.5m is 4 million

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