Smart meters for businesses have become pretty essential these past few months.
If you’ve noticed, most energy providers are determinedly offering smart meters to their consumers. Why could that be?
Well, It’s part of the nationwide roll-out.
By June 2025, every consumer in the UK (mostly residential) must have a smart meter.
Business energy consumers are still combatting inaccurate billing. Avoid this by installing smart meters for businesses.
What is the difference between a traditional and smart meter?
The difference between a traditional meter and a smart meter is the way they measure the amount of gas and electricity.
By its name, you can easily tell that smart meters are much more technologically advanced as unlike the former.
Additionally, smart meters directly pass on real-time updates and other information on usage to energy suppliers. This is great because you can keep a closer eye on your consumption.
Traditional meters require manual reading. This old school method makes consumers rely on estimated bills. This can be quite dodgy since not everyone can provide regular readings.
Smart meters are great for energy users that are on a strict budget. They easily determine when they use the most energy.
It will help them consider whether they’d like to move to a better tariff or lessen their consumption to save more on energy.
One can do a lot of things with just the right information.
Smart meters are a great repellant for estimated bills and manual meter readings. These are 2 wo things that can lead to expensive bills.
Scroll down for a more detailed explanation on how smart meters work, their pros and cons, how to avail one, and why these types of meters can help small businesses save thousands on energy.
Let’s start with the basics: How do smart meters work?
Smart meters act as an official replacement for standard meters. The smart meters submit the readings to a supplier prior to billing, which is great for businesses.
The smart meter wirelessly sends your usage to an energy supplier through a secure national communication network (or the DCC).
This makes it easier for energy companies to provide accurate billings. On top of that, smart meters are much easier to check since they come with in-home displays that provide the customer with real-time information, including the amount of kWh they’ve consumed.
Why are smart meters good for small businesses?
Smart meters are great for small businesses because they help consumers gain a little bit of control over their usage as it is much easier to track their costs.
With the help of this type of meter, utility bills will be a lot more accurate. In addition to that, business owners will be able to identify their peak hours (or when they use the most energy) in a day. WIth this type of information, they’ll be able to create a solution that could reduce their energy usage.
According to the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy, 21.5 million smart meters were installed in Great Britain as of June 30, 2020. 40% of them were non-domestic customers.
Pros and cons of smart meters
Everything in the world comes with pros and cons, that includes smart meters!
Advantages to having a smart meter
Below we’ve listed a bunch of smart meter pros in accordance to the Government-backed campaign Smart Energy GB’s take on smart meter benefits:
- Accurate bills – With the help of smart meters, estimated billing will be a thing of the past. Customers no longer have to worry about providing regular meter readings or having someone sent to their homes to have their meter read (which could cost an extra). Smart meters quickly relay accurate information based on your usage directly to your energy supplier, hence the accurate billing.
- In-house monitors that will help customers familiarize themselves with their consumption – Smart Meters come with in-home displays to make it a lot convenient for customers to monitor their usage. It gives accurate and real time readings in pounds and pence, and kilowatt hours (kWh). After a while, you will be able to notice your consumption habits and track your usage on the daily. It shows how much gas and electric credit a consumer has left on their meter as well, which can be helpful with budgeting too. With smart meters, smarter decisions can be made!
- Score great deals that are exclusive to smart meter users – Many energy suppliers offer great (and oftentimes cheaper) energy deals to customers that have a smart meter or are interested in having one installed.
Disadvantages that come with smart meters
- The installation takes awhile – While this might seem like a surface-level disadvantage, quite a few people aren’t really comfortable with the idea of having their meters installed by a professional or having a stranger come into their premises. On top of that, the entire installation process typically takes a couple of hours, in which you may temporarily lose power until the installation is done.
- Switching away from the supplier that has installed your meter could potentially “dumb” down your smart meter (dumb mode) – This doesn’t happen frequently, but it is however possible. Smart meters can lose their “intelligent” functionality once you decide to move to a different supplier.
Are smart meters expensive?
Smart meters can be installed by your energy supplier at zero cost. It is absorbed into your supplier’s operational costs. Same goes for installations and maintenance; there are no upfront costs.
Is it possible to switch energy suppliers even when I have a smart meter?
Yes, it is possible. HOWEVER, it can be a little more tedious and complex than it sounds.
According to Ofgem, the more people with smart meters, the better the benefits. Which brings us to SMETS, which stands for “Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications”. SMETS pertains to the 2 different versions that Smart Meters come in, namely SMETS1 (or First Generation smart meters) and SMETS2 (Second generation smart meters).
People who have had a smart meter installed before 2018 currently have a SMETS1 smart meter. Customers that still have a SMETS1 smart meter are encouraged to switch to SMETS2, first, as their meter is already bound to lose its smart functionality and delay data sending to their new supplier. If this happens, the customer will unfortunately be reverted to manually reading their meters and having their bills estimated like the old-fashioned way.
SMETS2 smart meter owners, on the other hand, are people who have had their smart meters installed in 2018 onwards. This is a newer model which can provide ZERO complications with switching.
How can I tell if I have a SMETS1 or SMETS2 smart meter?
Like we mentioned previously, people who had their smart meters installed before 2018 probably have SMETS1 Smart Meter (first-generation meter). SMETS2 (second-generation meters) are newer models that rolled out in 2018 and distributed onwards.
However, some energy suppliers are still trying to use up their stocks of first-generation meters, regardless of how recent your smart meter installation is. So it’s always best to contact your supplier (or whoever installed your smart meter) and ask them what type of smart meter you have.
Will I be able to save more money on a smart meter?
Of course! Smart meters even help consumers determine when they are using the most energy in a day. It can encourage people to come up with early solutions that could reduce their energy costs. Estimated billing is usually what hikes up a consumer’s bill; smart meters have fortunately brought an end to that. This type of meter offers consumers a lot of insight into how they can lower their bills, Additionally, its accurate billing just provides the reassurance that people actually pay for what they consume, nothing more, nothing less.
All smart meters come with an in-home display that shows how much energy someone is using during different times of the day, week, month, and year.
A slew of energy suppliers offer discounted tariffs and cheaper deals for people who have a smart meter or are looking to have one installed, to encourage faster roll-out of the meters.
I want a smart meter. Where are they available?
The government is encouraging everyone to get a smart meter from their energy supplier.
Typically, energy providers contact their customers to offer the new meter. Otherwise, it would be best to contact them and inquire.
It is worth noting that some people might not be able to avail a smart meter due to the way their property is built.
Smart meters are also not available in some regions.
Do I have to have a smart meter?
Suppliers don’t install smart meters within your remises without your consent. Right now, it isn’t an obligation to have a smart meter installed. You can get one only if you want to.
However, should you have any concerns or questions regarding smart meters, do not hesitate to discuss them with your current supplier.
Are smart meters safe?
Smart meters emit radio waves, and consumers think this is concerning.
However, an agency of the UK Department of Health called Public Health England (PHE) was able to piece together a series of evidence. This reassures smart meter users that these radio waves won’t put anyone’s health at risk. In fact, a cell phone is much riskier as far as radio waves exposure goes.
Just like any other in-home devices, every smart meter has undergone the same safety regulations and testing which have surpassed every UK and EU safety standards.
Are smart meters easy to read?
If you’re wondering how to read a smart meter, it’s not really too complicated!
Actually, unlike traditional meters, you don’t need to provide meter readings to your supplier regularly. The smart meter itself does it for you.
Although it would be a logical move to have your meter checked once or twice a year to avoid any complications such as loss of smart functionality where the meter fails to take a reading.
If you’re looking to read your smart meter to monitor your energy consumption, you can easily do just that using the in-home display that came with your smart meter.
Should you have any concerns regarding your in-home display–whether it’s faulty or the option to “read meter” is nowhere to be found–contact your supplier. They will happily walk you through the process or replace the device with a brand new one.
I want to switch to a business smart meter
Now that’s great! A lot of small businesses already have smart meters installed in their premises.
Normally, most business energy contracts run between 1 – 3 years, depending on the supplier. So if you’re on a fixed contract with any supplier, make sure you’re about to hit its end date to avoid penalties. Remember, opting out early from your contract could lead to costly exit fees.
If you’re currently within your ‘switching window’, switching to a business smart meter will be a breeze on your end.
Before making any changes, we suggest that you shop around for the best deals in the market that could benefit your business in the long run. It’s important to compare business energy prices from a wide selection of electricity and gas suppliers, both leading and independent.
Make sure you have the following details:
- Your business location (postcode)
- Your current energy supplier
- A copy of your most recent utility bill