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Smart meters

Smart meters are modern gas and electricity meters designed to give you more information about your energy use and control over your bills.

Smart meters are useful and could help you to reduce your energy use and therefore save money.

They come in two parts. Firstly, there’s the meter itself which records how much gas or electricity you use, and when you use it, and sends this information to your energy supplier. This device is small, and will normally live in the same space as your existing meter. The second part is the ‘home display unit’ which is connected wirelessly to the smart meter and which gives you information about your energy use, what you're spending on gas and/or electricity etc.

One of the advantages of smart meters is that your energy supplier no longer needs to come to your house to take a meter reading as they’ll receive this information automatically. Nor will they request that you take a meter reading yourself, or send you a bill based on an estimate. This (should) mean that you are always be charged the right amount for the gas or electricity you’ve used.

If you currently pay for your energy by prepayment meter then your supplier can provide you with a pay-as-you-go smart meter. This will have additional ways to make payments although you can still use a card if you prefer.

Home display units

All smart meters come with a display unit. This is a small separate device with a screen which you can put wherever you want in your home (preferably where you can see it).

The display unit will help you keep an eye on your gas and electricity usage, and keep track of what you’re spending. It will also show you how much energy you are using or how much money you’re spending at any moment, or have used and/or spent that day, week, month or year, and will display in pounds/pence or kilowatts, whichever you prefer. You will also be able to set daily, weekly and monthly ‘energy budgets’. If you have a smart pay-as-you go meter, the display will show how much credit you have left and if there is any outstanding debt.

Some suppliers will provide additional ways of monitoring your use on a website or via smart phone apps.

Some things to be aware of

At the moment not every energy supplier can work with every type of smart meter, which means that if you switch between certain suppliers you may need to change meters. However, even if the new supplier can’t support the ‘smart’ functions they will usually be able to use it in ‘dumb’ mode (e.g. lacking some of the functionality).

Smart meters give energy companies lots of information about customers’ gas and electricity use (but not personal details such as bank details). If you’re concerned about data protection, see You can also ask to see your energy company’s privacy policy which explains how it handles the data it collects. You can restrict your supplier’s access to your data so that all they can do is read the meter remotely when a bill is due, but if you do this, any web services or apps won’t work for you. And if you really don’t want a smart meter, you don’t have to accept one.

Having a smart meter installed

Under current government legislation, energy suppliers are obliged to offer every household smart metering for gas and electricity by 2020. So if you haven’t already been contacted about smart meters by your supplier, they are likely to be in touch soon. There should be no charge for changing from your old meter to a smart one.

The actual fitting should take less than an hour, depending on what kind of house you live in and where your meter is situated. Note that the gas and electricity will have to be switched off temporarily while the work is going on.

Your energy company should tell you the date and approximate time that an engineer will visit to fit the new meter. You can also request that the engineer calls you 30 minutes before they expect to arrive. For added security, you could ask your energy supplier for a password which the engineer must repeat when they turn up at your home. If you have any concerns, check the engineer’s ID card and, if you’re still in doubt, ask them to wait outside while you call your energy supplier.

This booklet describes how to use a British Gas in-home display. For instructions on using other suppliers' displays, check the smart-meter pages of the UK’s main energy suppliers: 
Smart Energy GB | British Gas | EDF | E.on | Utilita | nPower | Ovo | Scottish Power | SSE

Smart Energy GB ( is the national campaign for the smart meter rollout. It’s independent of government, not an energy supplier and it doesn’t fit smart meters. It’s role is to make sure people understand smart meters and how to use them to get their gas and electricity under control.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know if I'm getting a good deal from my gas & electricity supplier?

Suppliers often change their tariffs and therefore if you want to be sure that you are getting the best deal it is worth checking comparison websites every six months to a year. Energy suppliers are now also required to provide you with assistance to ensure the tariff you are paying for is most suitable for your needs.

Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

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Can I get financial help towards high bills?

If you think your bills are too high, firstly discuss them with your energy supplier as there may be an alternative tariff which would suit you better. If you receive Pension Credit or another income related benfit then you might qualify for the Warm Home Discount which is a rebate from your fuel supplier on your electricity bill. Some fuel suppliers have charitable trust funds that help people who have fuel debt that they cannot pay off.

Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234

Next question

View all frequently asked questions

How do I complain about my energy supplier?

If you have a complaint it is best to try and resolve this issue by first talking to your energy supplier. If the matter is not resolved you can contact Consumer Focus or your local Citizens Advice Bureau who may refer your case to the Energy Ombudsman.

Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234

Next question

View all frequently asked questions

Need more help?

Depending on where you live and who you buy your energy from, we can help you with grants and support

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