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Smart meters: top quality service is the smart option

Energy Saving Trust smart meter app

We recently launched our Energy Saving Advice app to help installers give good quality, tailored advice to householders when they’re getting a smart meter put into their home.

The smart meter installer’s code of practice means that they must give energy saving advice at every home visit. But this isn’t necessarily their skill set. Our app should make a difference here, helping to provide accurate, trusted and consistent energy saving advice. With plenty of interest in the app from energy companies, signs are promising that improvements in advice could be just round the corner.

This is much needed. Ofgem’s Energy Demand Research Project found that when customers were given energy saving advice at the point of receiving a meter, the energy savings that were achieved increased by up to two thirds. However, a recent National Audit Office (NAO) report estimated that some 2.1 million households (out of the 6.8 million with smart meters) do not recall being offered such advice when it was installed.

The low-down on smart meter installation day

Other than some practical information, what exactly should you be expecting when you get a smart meter installed?

Smart Energy GB, the organisation supporting the roll-out of smart meters, offer some information on the installation process on their website: with information about where the smart meters will be installed in the home (usually where your old meters were), what exactly will come your way (a smart gas and electricity meter, plus the option of an in-home display), and assurances about the skills of installers. Beyond that, there’s further information on offer from uSwitch which is certainly useful. Crucially, it includes how long the process will take: approximately one hour for each meter.

Standards set – and must be met

man in high viz showing an older lady a smart meter

There are a range of areas to think about after an installation date has been agreed, and it’s vitally important that householders receive a high quality of service on the day.

With evidence that the more you know, the more you’re likely to save, it makes complete sense that the engineer fitting your smart meter should talk to you about how you use energy and your home, so that they can provide you with advice on saving energy related to your home and habits. Our app helps make this advice relevant and personal, with room-to-room information for your home and a reminder emailed straight to your inbox to help put the information into practice.

Reaping the benefits of roll-out

With the smart meter roll-out in full flow, it’s clear that things aren’t perfect when it comes to the added extras that make a difference – though Ofgem has been in contact with suppliers that failed to offer energy efficiency advice, and brought improvements in sharing good practice. Standards are improving all the time, and though there’s still work to be done, of course, our app is there to help make this happen.

We believe smart meters are an important part of achieving more energy efficient, lower carbon homes. Knowledge of real-time energy use from an in-home display, coupled with good advice on installation, can bring almost immediate results.

Perhaps more importantly, smart meters have the potential to bring about new services, such as:

  • online tools to help us all manage our energy better
  • different tariffs with varying rates that reward customers who use energy off-peak
  • the potential to automate home appliances and devices, ensuring that even those with very busy lives can enjoy the advantages of off-peak tariffs.

Right now, though, what’s absolutely clear is that the homes still waiting to get their meter installed should expect – and enjoy – the best quality experience possible when they do.

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Gary Hartley's picture
Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.