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Forums Other London life Smart meters – any experience?

  • redethernet1 87 posts

    Not taken the leap. Worried that things will go bad! Many horror stories out there

    What are your experiences? Is it worth changing over or keeping a traditional metre? Since its not mandated by law

    NorthernLass 7,466 posts

    Do you mean a smart meter for utilities? We have one but keep it out of sight as it’s depressing to see how much it’s costing to keep warm! The only difference I’ve noticed is that we no longer have to supply readings.

    Tracey 211 posts

    The pluses are that you can get more accurate bills due to automatic reading, access to cut down and save promotions through your provider or companies like Loop as well as access to some more (and often cheaper) tariffs.

    Unless you subscribe to conspiracy theories I don’t see a downside.

    PS it’s meter not metre.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,045 posts

    I had one installed last year.

    No issues.

    Sometimes interesting to see that the bath I had cost 40p or whatever!

    AJA 1,068 posts

    My mum has smart meters and thinks they’re great as the gas meter is in a very awkward location so difficult to access and read. She hasn’t had any issues.

    In my home I have an electricity smart meter that was installed before i bought the house but it doesn’t transmit so I still have to submit monthly readings via Octopus’s website which I do together with readings ftom mu dumb gas meter.

    Personally I get the idea of them but I don’t really see how they can save you money as you either consume gas and electricity or you don’t. And switching off appliances and lights does not save you more money if you have a smart meter than if you have an old style dumb meter. I automatically use less gas in summer as I don’t need to heat my house so much, likewise with increased daylight hours I save electricity by not having lights on as much.

    I suppose they might save you money if the energy provider is able to provide dynamic pricing and charge a night saver rate or something but since my tariff doesn’t offer that I see no need to switch. A meter is a meter whether it’s smart or not.

    Andrew. 482 posts

    I’ve had mine for over 5 years now. It works perfectly fine and it’s good to take part in the Octopus schemes where you get a rebate for cutting your power use at certain times.

    There are downsides though.

    My good friend in the Aberdeen area has had repeated problems with his “Smart” gas meter, whenever the ambient temperature drops below approximately 2C, it stops recording gas use, and only starts recording it again when the temperature returns above 5C. It doesn’t affect the supply, only the recording of it. He’s had someone out twice looking at it, but it’s always been above 5C when they’ve inspected it and they can find no issues.

    Also, if you have a legacy tariff like my parent’s Nightstore10 (6 hours overnight, 2 hours afternoon, 2 hours evening at a discounted rate), the smart meters aren’t compatible with the double circuits and physical timeclocks so far.

    John 996 posts

    There are downsides though.

    My good friend in the Aberdeen area has had repeated problems with his “Smart” gas meter, whenever the ambient temperature drops below approximately 2C, it stops recording gas use, and only starts recording it again when the temperature returns above 5C. It doesn’t affect the supply, only the recording of it. He’s had someone out twice looking at it, but it’s always been above 5C when they’ve inspected it and they can find no issues.

    Free gas whenever it’s below 2°C? How is that a downside?

    Also, if you have a legacy tariff like my parent’s Nightstore10 (6 hours overnight, 2 hours afternoon, 2 hours evening at a discounted rate), the smart meters aren’t compatible with the double circuits and physical timeclocks so far.

    A smart meter should be compatible with any tariff. All it needs to do is submit readings at the relevant times each day, and this night store tariff can be implemented by the billing software. I believe meters are meant to be capable of sending readings every 30 minutes which is how things like Agile Octopus work.

    Rui N. 830 posts

    Well, if you want cheaper gas/electric the answer is yes. If you’d like to pay more, don’t get one and keep subsidising our smart tariffs.
    Jokes aside (althoug what I said above is true), worst case scenario the meter is not able to connect to the mobile network (O2 if in London and all southern parts of the country), you’ll still have basically a dumb meter, but at least can get onto Octopus Tracker, which has been much cheaper than anything else.
    Do join Octopus to get the best smart tariffs and £50 when you join: https://share.octopus.energy/silk-fox-179

    redethernet1 87 posts

    Do you mean a smart meter for utilities?

    yes

    PS it’s meter not metre.

    sorry was in a rush

    worst case scenario the meter is not able to connect to the mobile network (O2 if in London and all southern parts of the country), you’ll still have basically a dumb meter,

    i wondered if all have sim cards or use wifi as a backup, i presume if its on dumb mode then you wont get a discounted night rate?

    Rui N. 830 posts

    Southern parts of the country it uses O2 network. Above a certain part of the country (not sure exactly where) they use a dedicated network built just for this. Cannot use wifi, but Octopus (at least) is lobbying for that – they have a little device that connects to your meter then to your Octopus phone app, and they are using that to prove that it is reliable to send readings over wifi.
    If it doesn’t work you won’t have access to most smart tarrifs. Exception is Octopus Tracker, whose prices change daily, as they can use a non-smart method to assess your costs. For reference Octopus Tracker has been below 20p for electricity and 5p for gas since the beginning of 2023 (except in a couple of days here and there). You can check prices here: gastracker.uk
    But smart meters not working is really uncommon, so 99%+ chance yours will work fine.

    Not Long Now... 95 posts

    Smart meters not working is not that uncommon, 9% according to Commons report last year. Doesn’t specify how many of these failures are ‘old’ meters or whether new ones are better, but from my personal experience, our meters fitted 5 years ago have never worked. British Gas installed them, the engineer saying at the time “I’ll be back next week, none of this batch work”. Turns out he was correct, and ended up coming back 5 times, replacing them twice, and still no joy. Before they could sort them out we changed supplier to EDF who have so far been ‘looking at it in the back office, they’ll be able to sort it’ for more than 4 years, despite regular prodding through the app. Basically, as we don’t have an electric car to make use of a variable tariff, we’ve given up caring, and now just occasionally prod EDF to see what excuse they come up with next.

    davefl 1,229 posts

    The majority of the smart meters imstalled use 3G which will be switched off in 2033. So some sort of physical update will be necessary for a lot of the currently installed ones. Guess who will ultimately pay for the cost of that via our bills.

    I was “persuaded” over a decade ago by EON to have one installed – At no point was I informed it was optional It then went dumb after I switched to another provider 2 months later and only became “smart” again when I switched to sainsburys (powered by EON) in 2022.

    They don’t “save money” as per the government advertising, but they can make you more aware of your useage if you’re really anal about checking the display. Since mine is a V1 and the in home display is unfathomable I linked mine to the Bright/Glowmarket app to get my readings independently of the provider. This information isn’t widely advertised but really should be to give customers more choice and information.

    The whole purpose of them (without getting into conspiracy theories) is to reduce costs for the energy providers because they no longer need expensive human meter reading teams,they’re more difficult to tamper with therefore reducing theft, and ultimately they can vary tariffs depending on time of day/weather etc to persuade people to use energy at different times by financial incentive/punishment.

    redethernet1 87 posts

    Ok thanks, I have an EV and home charger, so if the nightly tariff works on other appliances that is a bonus, however there is resistance in the household in getting a smart metre as its irreversible. The main reason is due to the many horror stories on wrong calculations and malfunctions. currently on variable 31p for electric and 7.8p for gas (British Gas)

    strickers 662 posts

    The Smart Meter is generally very good, the In Home Displays (IHD) are either brilliant or useless, people often mix the two up.

    redethernet1 87 posts

    The Smart Meter is generally very good, the In Home Displays (IHD) are either brilliant or useless, people often mix the two up.

    I thought they were the same thing, essentially the IHD is showing the key ouputs?

    strickers 662 posts

    @redethernet1 It depends on a number of factors, for showing energy usage, providing it actually connects it can be good. For displaying costs it all depends on what is loaded onto the Smart Meter, mine at the moment is showing complete garbage because the meter doesn’t have the correct rates. Gas is particularly problematic because I am on a tracker tariff that changes daily and Octopus don’t update the meter each day. Fundamentally, the IHD hasn’t kept up with the progress of smart tariffs. There are however some excellent apps out there that will connect to the Octopus API but they don’t update live. The Octopus Mini is a step forward and will show live electricity usage in the Octopus App.

    redethernet1 87 posts

    that worrys me as the unit doesnt know what its displaying, processing and sending off, that may filter down into wrong costs (paying more than you should be)

    @redethernet1 It depends on a number of factors, for showing energy usage, providing it actually connects it can be good. For displaying costs it all depends on what is loaded onto the Smart Meter, mine at the moment is showing complete garbage because the meter doesn’t have the correct rates. Gas is particularly problematic because I am on a tracker tariff that changes daily and Octopus don’t update the meter each day. Fundamentally, the IHD hasn’t kept up with the progress of smart tariffs. There are however some excellent apps out there that will connect to the Octopus API but they don’t update live. The Octopus Mini is a step forward and will show live electricity usage in the Octopus App.

    strickers 662 posts

    @redethernet1 That’s what confuses most people, the IHD doesn’t send anything, the Smart Meter does that. It should send electricity reading every 30 mins and gas every hour. Your energy company uses these reading to generate billing.

    davefl 1,229 posts

    that worrys me as the unit doesnt know what its displaying, processing and sending off, that may filter down into wrong costs (paying more than you should be)

    The in home display is irrelevant to the billing system. The interval readings from the meter go to a central database which your current provider interacts with. They then bill you according to the tariff.

    My v1 meter had a completely dumb in home display where I had to manually change the tariffs whenever they changed. The other main issue with the in home displays is that if they break or you move into a home where the original was lost etc then the providers expect you to pay for a new one.

    As I mentioned above you can use an independent app such as glowmarkt which is free (no ads) and much better than a lot of them https://glowmarkt.com/bright

    strickers 662 posts

    @davefl The Bright app is good but it still can’t cope with some of the more modern smart tariffs such as Octopus Tracker.

    Rui N. 830 posts

    Yeah, as other people said IHD suck, and most can’t cope with smart tariffs at all, especially the more “complicated” ones.
    Those stories are just that, stories. All meters are very precise, smart meters even more so (mechanical ones start to accumulate errors). The reason they can’t send readings over wifi is exactly because they are so precise and having precise readings is so important, that Ofgem still thinks that sending them over wifi could open the door to problems (it’s really not a problem, but they are very conservative).
    You are losing massive amounts of money for not getting one, especially with an EV. You can save at least 66% of those charging costs, 75% if your car or charger were compatible with Octopus Intelligent Go.

    FatherOfFour 273 posts

    How does Bright Markt monetise the app? I have been using Loop, which constantly wants to sell me solar or do solar modelling- however I already have solar and it doesn’t let me tell it that!
    My solar submits readings via API too, so i’d love to find an app that brings it all into one- I used to manually record all my meter readings and work out usage per month etc. but that’s clearly very old fashioned!

    strickers 662 posts

    @FatherOfFour Hildebrand (Glowmarkt & Bright App) are predominantly in the data business, they also sell monitoring hardware. Their IHD is much better than the energy providers devices because of the way it can transmit data using MQTT. I have a Home Assistant display that shows the immediate electricity load on the house. Once the data is in Home Assistant there are so many uses for it.

    gerjomarty 10 posts

    I feel like this is one of those things where you’ll hear many more negative stories than positive online. If it works, there isn’t really much to shout about. I’ve had a smart meter for electricity for about a year and it’s worked great.

    One of the blind spots I ran in to was that because I live in a flat, my electricity meter and gas meter are both physically very far apart. While the electricity meter either has cellular capabilities in the south or radio in the north, the gas meter only has the capability to send its data to the electricity meter itself (I believe). The gas meter also needs to run on batteries, so will only send readings every 30 minutes and should last about 10-15 years.

    You can see the problem though, if there’s enough distance between the gas and electricity meters then it won’t be possible to get a smart gas meter. Luckily my installer had some words with E.on and was able to install the electricity meter anyway. So now I only have to manually submit readings from the gas meter.

    If you’ve got batteries, solar, or an EV, I would almost say its a no-brainer to also have a smart meter. If you’re able to be on the ball, or interested in tinkering with home automation, it opens up interesting things like Octopus Agile, as has been mentioned. There have been a couple of nights this year where they’ve paid *you* to use electricity (highly dependent on weather, current generating capacity, etc.)

    I’ve also participated in some of the National Grid ESO’s Demand Flexibility Service events, which different energy companies or apps market as different things – Octopus as “Saving Sessions”, Loop as “Turn Down and Save”, USwitch as “Utrack Money Back”, etc. They pay you to reduce electricity in a given hour, announced the day before, or sometimes a few hours before. This is possible with the half hourly data that your smart meter sends to the network.

    You’ll find much more tecnhical information about how smart meters work on https://www.smartme.co.uk

    strickers 662 posts

    @gerjomarty It might take a while but they are trialling communications hubs for your very issue, specifically designed for flats.

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