For many people, the advances in technology shown by devices such as smart meters are a good thing. But for others, the idea of having all these smart devices in the home is unsettling or just irritating. The government is championing the idea of a smart meter to help with gas and electricity bills but should you have one installed? And are they compulsory?
What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is a device that takes your gas and electricity readings for you and sends the information to your gas supplier, for example, British Gas. The government wants to have as many as 26 million homes running smart meters by 2020 and by Spring 2016, there were already 3 million in use.
The idea of a smart meter is that you can wirelessly submit your energy usage without the need to give meter readings. Where you once rang the British Gas meter reading phone number, the idea is that a smart meter would save you this phone call. The device would send the information across the internet and means that your bills would always be accurate and you would only pay for the electricity and gas that you use.
In the long term, the aim is that the utility companies will be able to offer you a tariff that exactly matches what you use and allows you to have fully accurate and controlled bills. The meters collect information such as how many kilowatts you have used in the last hour, week and month. It shows how much you have spent across a certain period and is updated around every 30 minutes. Some even have the facility to set energy goals to help manage bills.
Can I say no?
While the government is behind the move to make the nation have smart meters, you can say no at this time. It means you will still need to call that British Gas meter reading phone number yourself or submit your meter readings online. And for some people, it will mean regular visits from the meter reading person if you forget to do this.
However, in the long run, it might be to your benefit to allow the company to fit the meter. After all, how many times have you ended up paying for more electricity than you used and had to get a refund? Isn’t it better not to have to pay the money out in the first place? The use of smart meters will save time and work and ensure your bills are accurate every time.
Can I still call my utility company?
Once you have a smart meter installed, there is nothing to stop you contact your utility company about other queries. For example, you can ring the British Gas boiler cover phone number to report a potential problem with your boiler regardless whether you have a smart meter in place or not. And if you want to ring British Gas (for example) and check you are still on the best tariff, there’s nothing to stop you doing this either.