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Smart Meter lies No 4

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Smart Meter lies No 4

Smart Meter lies No 4

Smart Meter lies No 4 – The great smart meter revolution has faltered and households can choose, once again, to opt out and keep hold of their old-fashioned utility meters which require manual reading. When they were introduced in 2009, smart meters were supposed to simplify the billing process and ensure readings were up to date and accurate. But the roll-out has been plagued with problems – as explained below. Now, according to research conducted by comparethemarket.com, one in five people do not want one. The Government had originally said that every household would be set up with a smart meter by 2020 – and nearly seven million have been installed so far – but in June the Government subtly downgraded this requirement. Now every home will be “offered” a smart meter by 2020, with no obligation to take one. The controversy around smart meters is more so because it is the Government’s job to set overall energy policy, not the job of suppliers, and the move away from carbon-based energy sources, the national roll-out of smart meters, and the expansion of renewables and nuclear power has cost consequences, with the consumer expected to pick up the tab. Every household will, ultimately, pay for the new meter roll-out via their bills. As energy companies are quick to say, this is one reason why bills are rising. But should you get one? These are six key considerations. It is the Government’s job to set overall energy policy, not the job of suppliers Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire 1) Smart meters could make it harder to switch gas and electricity providers Early adopters of smart meters got a nasty shock when they later tried to switch energy provider. Some of the “first generation” smart meters fitted in households are currently incompatible with a new national communications network – which is how your usage data is transmitted to the energy provider. Meters not connected to this system “go dumb” when consumers switch suppliers, meaning their new smart meters are no better than the old-fashioned ones. Customers would have to submit readings manually as before – something which can actually be more difficult with a “smart-meter-turned-dumb” than an old-fashioned meter. The Government and Smart Energy GB, the body tasked with promoting the rollout of smart meters, insist the original meters will eventually connect with the network. However, insiders at some of the large energy companies have said they may need to be replaced. (1) 2) Smart meters don’t bring an end to estimated bills (or billing errors) For many homeowners, who believed they would gain even more control over their bills, the introduction of a smart meter has been a disappointment. The majority of energy providers encourage customers to pay via annual payment plans, where their yearly usage is estimated in advance and the cost split into 12 payments. This means that millions of bills still refer to “estimated” use, even where customers have smart meters. It also means that many customers are, as before, have credits on their accounts of hundreds of pounds. Errors with meters also mean that wrong information is being sent and acted upon by suppliers. Angela Forman, who lives in East Sussex, agreed to have a smart meter installed after being told it would remove the need to send monthly meter readings. She had been on an Economy 7 tariff, which takes separate readings in day and night, when energy demand and cost is lower. However when she received her first bill under the smart system it was for £114, much higher than her usual £94. Her meter had a fault and was sending her energy company an estimated reading, actively costing her money. And horror stories have swamped social media of customers being billed tens of thousands of pounds incorrectly. Mark Umpleby tweeted SSE with a photo that said he had used £33,183 of gas in one day – 2,765,175 per cent over budget. Another customer, Usman Hussain, tweeted a picture of his meter saying he would be charged nearly £9,600 for his day’s electricity and gas. (1) 3) Smart meters won’t work if you have a poor signal in your area The successful operation of smart meters can also be a postcode lottery. Live in an area with poor mobile signal? There’s a chance your smart meter won’t work. This was the issue for Mrs Forman. The mobile reception was not good enough, which forced her smart meter to revert to “dumb mode” and send estimated readings. Another reader, Suzanne Harvey, had a smart meter installed in 2014 and was told by the engineer who fitted it that the poor reception might create difficulties. This proved to be the case and she failed to receive a bill for almost a year. Smart Energy GB expects the rollout of the national network to make the meters independent of mobile coverage – effectively fixing this problem. (1) 4) The display units linked to smart meters are crude and difficult to understand Many have complained that the “smart interface” of their meter – the device which sits inside the house and displays data about usage and cost – is difficult to understand. The hope is that mobile apps will be developed which are more user-friendly. Ovo, one of the newer providers and an advocate of smart meters, has an app which shows usage and readings updated by week. It also shows any current balance as well as usage and cost over recent months. Contact Energy4 today for further information Location: 25 Hartley Meadow, Whitchurch, Hampshire, RG28 7BW Opening Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 Mon to Sat To discuss further, please contact Energy4 Telephone: Call us on 01642 888814 & 01642 888816 Email: contact@energy4.co.uk Please provide the best date and time of day that we should contact you Click here to contact Energy4 today Contact Energy4 today for further information
Ofgem information Further information from Ofgem Further information 1 Smart Meter lies No 4 Smart Meter lies No 4 Smart Meter lies No 4 Smart Meter lies No 4 Smart Meter lies No 4 Smart Meter lies No 4 Smart Meter lies No 4 Smart Meter lies No 4
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