Currently I read the electricity and gas meters at the end of each
month, fill in an online form, and pay for the actual usage near the
middle of the following month. I'm very happy with this arrangement.
My supplier (First Utility) has offered me free "smart meters".
A smart meter takes automatic readings of your energy usage
It sends the readings via a mobile communications link to First Utility
We make your energy usage data available to view online
You receive an accurate, monthly energy bill
Experience tells me that if something is free there must be a downside,
but I can't see it. Is there one? Is this a consumer-subsidised scheme
like those "free" CFLs?
On Thu, 28 Oct 2010 09:58:49 +0100, Vortex7 wrote:
Presumably a smart meter still has a display so you can check that
the data it has sent and appears on the bill is correct. So A.N.Other
supplier not using smart meters or on a differnt smart meter system
can just carry on using the information from the display.
The only time I've had a meter misread is when they used the optical
link thingy... Do smart meters still have to be read manually, by a
meter reader and by law, at least every six months?
We had these installed by E-on a couple of years ago. They worked fine,
there's no catch and the reason the companies do it is because they don't
have to pay a meter reading company to come round and read your meters, but
they still get accurate readings unlike with some of the self-read tariffs
around. Basically it's cheaper for them.
There is no lock-in, if you move to another supplier that doesn't use the
smart meters then the digits are read from the screen in the normal way.
The interesting one was the gas meter. Of course there is no power supply to
a gas meter so I wondered if they just swap out batteries or they rely on a
turbine blade in the gas flow to keep a rechargeable topped up.
The gas meter doesn't actually transmit directly back to the company, it
transmits locally to the electricity meter (the two have to be paired) and
then the electricity meter has a SIM card in it and transmits both readings
back to the company over GPRS.
From First Utility's FAQ:
Are there any reasons why you may not be able to fit a smart meter in my
In most cases smart meters are installed with no problems at all.
Occasionally we have found that we are unable to do so due to a number
of reasons beyond our control. These include:
* A weak mobile signal (smart meters communicate using mobile
technology, therefore a weak signal will prevent the meter sending the
reads to our head office)
There are quite a few scare stories out there about First Utility (FU by
name, FU by customer service).
Some relate to mis-billing (over-billing) even when a smart meter is
fitted, smart meter readings not filed, over estimates with refusal to
accept customer readings as corrections.
Googling for: "First Utility" +"smart meter" +problems gets quite a few,
In my personal experience they are fine when all is going well but
quickly live up to their initials when things go wrong. Smart meter may
be a fine idea but don't expect an easy ride if things start going
Watch out for their low(ish) unit prices but high standing charges.
FIVE TV's superbright logo - not the DOG's, it's bollocks
Thanks - all useful advice. We're quite high users so the standing
charge isn't much of an issue. I've actually been well pleased with the
service and prices I've received from FU. I'm thinking that I should
leave well alone and certainly look at any terms and conditions such as
tariff changes before committing to anything.
Indeed I just did that and it works out more expensive.
So much for "free".
Therefore I'll leave things as they are. While investigating the tariffs
I discovered that I'm due for a substantial dual fuel rebate quite soon
- I'd forgotten about that. People might complain about the service but
FU been have very good for me.
When E-on fitted these for us we didn't have to change tariff, there was no
lockin, and they were explicit that the power used by the meter is not added
to the bill just like with any other electronic meter. They also stated that
it consumed less power than the energy needed to spin the disc in the old
For us it was a no-brainer to have them fitted as it meant we never needed to
see a meter reader again.
In theory its a cost saving, they don't have to send meter readers out as
Its also an "energy saving measure" and the government wants everyone to
have a smart meter so they can see how much energy you are wasting.
In theory it will cost more in the short term since someone will have
to pay for all those smart meters and their installation. But don't
worry the utility companies won't lose out and will past the cost onto
the consumer :-(
Correct. Everyone will get a smart meter over the next few years.
The thing I am really concerned about is I'll bet there will be little
or no security and it will be easy to hack the meter and cut your
All "their" calculations are based on the assumption that no-one knows
how much energy they are using and smart meters will magically make
them use less.
(='.'=) Due to the amount of spam posted via googlegroups and
There is another advantage for the energy companies. The same meters can be
used for pre-pay or post-pay billing. For pre-pay billing, the customer can
pay on the web, over the phone or at a Paypoint location and the account is
automatically topped up a bit like a mobile phone topup account. The credits
are added to the meter over the GPRS interface and you can see on the meter
how much credit you have remaining. If you switch between pre-pay and
post-pay a signal is sent over the air to the meter and it alters its
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.