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April 2, 2024

Why are Millions of Smart Meters Faulty?

According to data from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), 4.31 million smart meters in the UK aren’t working correctly, leading to reporting and billing errors from suppliers.

How do Smart Meters Work?

Smart energy meters are designed to accurately measure how much gas and electricity a consumer is using, calculating how much this costs in near real-time.

Some smart meters also send readings to suppliers via a remote connection, known as 'smart mode.' If this connection is lost, suppliers rely on generating an estimated bill until the consumer provides their meter readings.

How Many Smart Meters Are Faulty?

According to Smart Energy GB, a non-profit organisation focusing on the benefits of smart meters, there are now almost 35 million smart meters in Great Britain, and the 'vast majority' are operating as intended.

However, new data suggests that around 4.31 million of those aren’t working as they should, which means consumers are either paying too much or not enough, leaving them with a debt to pay.

Can I Check if my Energy Smart Meter is Working Correctly?

Faulty meters can be hard to spot; often, consumers notice the effects of their meter not working rather than the fault itself.

Luckily, smart meters are easier to diagnose because they provide real-time information about energy consumption.

While it can be difficult to notice, there are some signs to watch out for, including sudden increases in your energy bill. Although these increases can be triggered by external factors, they could be the biggest sign that something is wrong.

If you suspect something is wrong, run a meter test. In this case, the specific tests needed are either a creep test or a load test. Both involve turning off your power and then turning on each device one by one; this will give a good indication that your meter is recording data correctly.

You can also check if your smart meter is working correctly in smart mode, sending up-to-date readings to your energy supplier automatically. There are online tools where you can enter your meter readings and data, which will tell you if your smart meter is working correctly.

What should I do if my meter is faulty?

If you suspect that your smart meter is faulty, you should contact your energy supplier directly to report any problems. From the day you report any issues, your supplier should update you within five working days.

Typically, they will come back to you with details on how they plan to investigate and determine any problems with your meter, as well as how they plan to repair any faults and rectify any problems caused.

If they do not get back to you within those five working days with all the necessary details, they will have to pay £30 compensation per detail they failed to address. If they fail to do this within 10 working days, they will have to pay additional compensation.

However, if they fulfil their obligations and their investigation finds no fault in your smart meter, you could be liable to pay a fee to cover the investigation.

What Experts Say:

DESNZ says the "vast majority" of smart meters are working correctly, but "reporting errors by a minority of suppliers have uncovered more meters not operating in smart mode than previously thought.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, has written to Ofgem, urging "action to ensure suppliers are held to account if they are not supporting customers with issues as they should be.”

Energy regulator Ofgem said it had asked suppliers to provide more detail on how they plan to tackle connectivity issues.

“If customers have concerns about the way this is handled, they can complain to their supplier, and if the issue is not resolved to their satisfaction, they should raise it with the ombudsman,” it said.

Other smart meter news:

It comes after reports that Energy watchdog Ofgem is consulting on a 'dynamic' new price cap system which allows different charges depending on the time of day to meet the demand of net zero.

The proposals would see smart meter users facing higher energy bills by basing the price cap around the wholesale costs of electricity throughout the day. This means the suppliers could move to a ‘time-of-day’ tariff or weekly ‘time bands’ setting the price by peak periods.

It comes despite a promise from the UK government in 2018, claiming it was a ‘myth’ that suppliers would charge higher prices through smart meters. Ofgem has admitted this would risk 'exposing customers to wholesale price variability' and that 'many consumers may struggle to engage with constantly evolving pricing'.

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