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Have you thought about getting a smart meter?

Thursday 1 October 2015 Renting A Home

Gas and electricity bills can be stressful if you’re renting, especially if it’s your first time away from home, or you’ve just moved from halls of residence into a shared house. But smart meters can help you to keep track of household energy, budget for the academic year ahead, and find new ways to save both energy and money. 

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They send automatic updates to your energy supplier, meaning accurate bills (no more worrying estimates) and an end to manual meter readings. The accompanying smart meter display will also show you exactly how much energy you’re using and what it’s costing you in pounds and pence.

Will this be any help to you?

In a word – yes! Smart meters are being rolled out to every home across Great Britain at no extra cost, and that includes rented student accommodation. If you pay the gas and electricity bills, you can ask for a smart meter to be fitted in your house, even if you’re only staying for one academic year. There is no additional charge for a smart meter or for the smart meter display, and you can leave the new technology behind for the next tenants to benefit from. 

Do I need to ask my landlord’s permission to have a smart meter?

If you pay the bills and they're addressed to you, you don't need your landlord's permission to get smart meters fitted – you can just let them know you’re being upgraded. If your gas and electricity is included in your rent and your landlord receives the bills, it is still a good idea to get a smart meter installed, as it will give you, your housemates, and your landlord greater visibility around your gas and electricity use.

What are the benefits of having a smart meter?

Smart meters will help you and your housemates to stay in control of your gas and electricity, saving you energy and money, and helping you to budget for the year.

  • You won’t need to remember to take meter readings and submit them to your supplier – your smart meter will do that for you
  • You’ll have near real time information in pounds and pence, showing you what you are spending on gas and electricity so you can budget easily
  • You and your housemates will be able to identify areas where you’re wasting energy, and reap instant rewards from any changes you make to cut back (meaning extra cash for more exciting things!)
  • You won’t have to worry about unpredictable estimated bills landing on your doormat. Your bills will be accurate, you’ll know what to expect, and you’ll only pay for gas and electricity you’ve actually used
  • You’ll have the information you need to decide whether you are getting the best deal, or if you should switch to a different tariff or supplier
  • If your bills are included in your rent, having a smart meter will help you to keep track of how much gas and electricity you’re using during your contract. If your landlord has set a limit, you won’t get caught out

What if I have a prepayment meter?

If your house has a prepayment meter, you will still be offered the opportunity to upgrade. In fact, smart meters can function in direct debit or prepayment mode, so you and your housemates can choose how you want to pay for your energy. If you choose smart prepay you’ll be able to:

  • Conveniently see how much credit you have left on your smart meter display
  • Top up when and where you want to – online, with an app, on the phone, or via text message
  • Top up with cash payments in person, without any need to put a key or card back into a meter, which may be difficult to access. Payments will automatically be added to your account
  • Pay the same rates as everyone else – smart meters will remove the need for prepay to be more expensive than other tariffs

How do I get a smart meter?

When you can get a smart meter installed depends on your supplier’s plans, where you live and what type of home you are renting. You might have already received a letter from your supplier, in which case you can go ahead and book an installation. If not, to find out if you can get one now, contact your energy supplier directly.

Smart meters are being rolled out across Great Britain, with Northern Ireland under a separate programme led by the Northern Ireland Executive.

For more information see: www.smartenergyGB.org/get-a-smart-meter