/ Home & Energy

Is the smart meter roll-out a good idea?

First Utility smart meter

When we launched our smart meter challenge, we were surprised by how many said they didn’t want one at all. And although we support the roll-out, we’re working hard to tackle the issues that could be bad for consumers.

Many of you clearly have concerns about smart meters, which is why we’re campaigning on this issue and will be for some time to come. But overall we think there are significant benefits.

How smart meters can benefit us

In a market where we’ve heard a lot about innovation but seen little of it, this new metering technology is a real improvement. We’ll get accurate bills and we’ll all be able to better understand how we use energy. There should also be improvements to the market, as companies can better balance the grid to match energy demand.

Commenter Mike D presented two examples of how smart meters could help his family – a smart meter could have identified his daughter’s faulty fridge freezer as the cause of her excessive quarterly bill. And daily readings could stop his elderly father from worrying about surprise sky-high bills.

However, Phil rightly pointed out that there are concerns about smart meters, ‘Which? should be addressing these matters, not providing an unqualified approval.’ So I’m here to explain why our approval isn’t unqualified and what we’re doing to ensure the roll-out benefits consumers.

Is the roll-out happening too soon?

The most immediate issue with smart meters stems from the fact that companies are rolling them out early – before consumer benefits have been agreed and explained, and before universal standards are in place.

It isn’t right that suppliers can roll-out meters that aren’t up to spec and expect you to pay if and when they need to be replaced. We think that any company that does this should bear the cost of upgrading or replacing them when the government does decide on a universal standard – it was their commercial decision to roll-out early, so they should shoulder the risk.

This also goes for the problem of switching energy suppliers. Commenter Ron asked, ‘will each supplier have a propriety system, resulting in a re-installation cost if you switch?’ Having a smart meter shouldn’t make it more difficult for you to switch, which is why we’re continuing to push for a universal standard.

Why are we paying when energy companies benefit?

In our previous Convo, Paul Moran said ‘The people who are going to profit from them year after year are the energy companies who will save on meter reading.’

Others are also worried that if we reduce our energy consumption by using an energy monitor, suppliers will just raise prices again. Otherwise, why would suppliers be interested in us using less of their energy?

To tackle this, we’re making sure that Ofgem and the government keep a close eye on the prices energy companies charge after the roll-out. Plus, energy companies are now making new profits by helping us use less energy, like selling us insulation and solar panels.

Do I have to have one?

Some of you are also concerned that you’ll be forced into getting a smart meter before you’re ready for one. But at the moment it’s important to note that you do not need to have one installed, even if you’re offered it. This may change in the future, but in the meantime we’ll continue to work with government and energy companies to make sure consumers are heard and protected throughout the roll-out.

Our ‘no selling, just installing’ campaign is just one part of our on-going work on smart meters, and we will continue to launch campaigns for the different elements when it is appropriate, so I hope that you’ll all continue to be as actively engaged in this issue.

In the meantime, do you think there are any areas where Which?, the government or your energy supplier could be doing more to inform people about smart meters?


Gerry- You did not understand my comments. The meter would only be set to transmit energy consumption once a month or once a quarter depending upon the individual domestic consumers tariff. The data wold be the total cumulative kWhs from day one; day one would be the total from when the meter was installed and put into service, hence to establish the amount used in the previous month or quarter one would have to know the previous reading and to subtract the last reading from the current reading. There would be no merit in continuous readings from 22,000,000 plus individual domestic meters.
To the Which staff dealing with this subject WAKE UP and please reply to my previous request to give your views on my suggestion on how the new meters should work, which is after all is the key to all the arguments on this subject. PLEASE ANSWER WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

Gerry says:
9 September 2011


I wouldn’t particularly mind if a new meter worked the way that you describe, but it’s a safe bet that sooner or later it would have far more functionality than that. It would be built in from the start but temporarily disabled, or else it would be quietly added later via a software upgrade.

Collecting usage pattern information would be very useful because it would allow all sorts of surcharges and restrictions, all applied and billed automatically. They would benefit Big Energy, not the poor old consumer who would just end up paying for all the clever technology that worked against them.

Simon Evans says:
10 September 2011

I think this is a key point. Calling these devices “smart meters” makes them look user-friendly, environmentally sound and generally a good thing. If they were called “Remote power control and billing devices” it would be more honest.


@ Simon Evans

Or “Subscriber Compliance and Appliance Monitoring”, SCAM for short…


I returned from holiday today to find my copy of Which? had been delivered, inside it was a copy of “Affordable Energy Campaign”.

The article “Time to Get Smarter” – where Which? says what needs to happen – I quote “There’s been some scepticism from Which? members about the benefits smart meters will bring” under the topic “Why should you pay so they save?”

Talk about an understatement, there isn’t even a mention of the ability to switch off remotely or even the forced – you will have one even if you don’t want one!

Come on Which? come clean and let the facts be published properly so that everyone can see ALL of the issues.


Quite agree.
I am, frankly, disgusted, by Which?’s published stance on this issue.
It is rather comparable with making a statement like “Some people believe that Hitler may have been too hard on the Jews”.
But then, I compare with Which?’s stance on CFL’s and a few other hot topics at the moment and it’s clear that there is a similaity.


We will be in touch very soon about further research on smart meters. As we said in a previous Convo, we want to give people the opportunity to give us their opinions on this issue to help us plan future work.



I’m sure this comment has been made many times before, but as I don’t want to read all 283 previous comments I’ll say it any way. Smart meters will benefit the energy companies only in that they will be able to dispense with the meter man (or woman). Nothing wrong with that, especially if they pass on the savings to the consumer after their capital spend has been recouped. But please don’t dress it up as something it is not, and please don’t let the consumer pay for it. The fairly widespread use of energy moniters has proved the lie that they will save the consumer money, after the inital novelty phase has worn off they sit on the side unlooked at and frankly in the way. Which? should be campaigning for the consumer here and be 100% against the consumer having to pay for their installation. I can also see that in time, with remote software upgrades these meters might be used for any number of different purposes – purposes that could conceivable act very much against the consumers’ interest. No to smart meters in the first place – a complete waste of several billion £’s.


I like Jon, have not read all the previous 284 comments. However, I would like to make a contribution:
Last year I did a ‘Switch with Which?’ and found that First Utility (FU) would offer me a much cheaper deal the British Gas – so I switched. To me, one of the possible attractions was FU’s offer of free Smart Meters (SM). As a nerd of long standing, I have been recording my energy use since I designed my bungalow in 1964. I had used the tedious method of estimating the heating costs by calculating the thermal transmissivity of every square meter of wall, ceiling and floor, I had also found a book the published a map of the UK with contour plots of the Degree-Day climate experiences at that time. I estimated that my furnaces would consume 2 tons of coke per annum and would you believe it, I bought 1ton 15 cwt coke over the winter of 64/65.
Fast forward to 2011. I now have SMs fitted free to the gas and electricity supplies. Like many of you I was a little apprehensive over my security and privacy but my nerdish tendencies dominated. Both meters were fitted within one hour. Two days later I could go online and see plots of electricity consumption displayed as 30 minute interval data. I could also download this data as a csv digital file. The gas data wasn’t as detailed. Just the meter reading (in cubic meters) every 24 hours. I am delighted with this because all my previous efforts had left me with pretty large uncertainties caused by quarterly billing, irregular visits from the meter readers and those fairy-tale estimates. Now I get believable energy consumption records and using FUs Direct Debit Billing method, I just pay in arrears for the energy I have used! What’s more, I have repeated my ‘Switch with Which?’ activity and still find that they are the cheapest. I am not an employee nor do I have a financial interest in FU.
One enticing outcome of all this is the potential usefulness of my SM gas readings. I have discovered that I can download 20C Degree Day 24hr values as interval data from a nearby weather station. This means that I can see the correlation between my gas central heating kW consumption and the local temperature. In fact, if I divide the kW energy consumption by both the DD figure and the total external surface area of the building I would get the effective U-value of my home. To me, this is a much more sensible way of displaying the energy efficiency of a house than the current Energy Performance Certificates (costing £45) that are needed when you want to sell your property.
There, I told you I was a Nerd. (Do a Google on DegreeDays for a definition)

Mordenman says:
27 October 2011

I haven’t read all the stuff on this subject, but looked at it because my fears have just been realised.
Not withstanding what advantages there may be to accessing your past usage, the real reason for them as I suspected, is to be able to increase the cost of your supply when you want to use it at a time which is inconvenient for the suppliers. To add insult, they will expect us to pay for this facility for them.
Ever since the grid system was created, there has been the problem of how to deal with the huge variation in demand, the increase at peak times and the surplus capacity at night. Hence ‘economy 7’ and other off peak inducements. The bad old publicly owned industry dealt with this peak demand by building pumped storage schemes and installing gas turbine driven generating sets strategically placed around the country, which covered this peak demand, all without significantly increasing the prices. Agreed the GTs ran at a loss for the short time they were needed, so these were soon scrapped once the system was privatised. It used to be a service industry, not a chance to grub up money from a captive population.
We are now back to the usual bancrupt way of thinking …. make it more expensive to do the things that bring problems that are difficult to solve, rather than engineer a solution which is fair to all, not just the affluent.

Ljwhitestar says:
31 October 2011

Come on which do your homework this is ‘Technocracy’ they are trying to shuffle down our throats. The ideas for the smart grid/meters coming down from the trilateral commission in America where this all first started. These meters are going to eventually be hooked into every part of your life and all your data will be being examined and used for who’s benefit. So Where’s the discussion and proper regulation how can corporates/governments have that kind of control over our energy resources without discussion, to much power in the wrong hands has always been a bad thing. I have also read that the health issue’s with these meters are causing alot of problems with families, I for one know that there is no way that meter will be coming any where near my home it will be a resounding NO from me.


Hello all, you may be interested to hear that we’re calling on the government to stop and rethink the smart meter roll-out after an investigation, launched in part due to your comments. You can read more about this on our latest Conversation “Stop and rethink the smart meter roll-out”: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/stop-smart-meter-roll-out-uk-government-electricity-gas/

Brian Riches says:
17 January 2012

The more I read about this the less I like it. I have noted comments in various places that all the wiring in my house will effectively become a data transmitter. That the transmission system is not secure. That it can be hacked into and so on. Thus giving a clear idea of what I’m doing at half-hour intervals and, most importantly, giving a good indicator of when I am not at home. I have gone to some considerable trouble to fit devices that will persuade potential intruders to stay away from my property. All of which will be totally useless if a hacker can actually switch my electricity supply off. Leaving them only the problem of cutting through the glass of my conservatory.

I also have issues with data protection as I understand that the data will not be kept in the UK but somewhere in Europe or even the USA.

There must also be health issues. I have seen comments from people in the USA and Australia itemising health problems that have been traced to these meters. And I include the displays.

What about my right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights?

I thought I’d read (perhaps on here somewhere) that I cannot be required to have one of these smart meters. Is that really the case? And what is the law?

Now that I’m a pensioner every penny counts so please think of us. I’m already poor. I’ve reduced my food intake to around one meal every two or three days. Because I was a civil servant, so I can’t have any pension increases for a few years.

Help us out!


This is a verbatim statement from the DECC;

“While smart metering brings significant benefits, it will not be an offence for householders to refuse to accept a smart meter and we have made it clear that we do not expect suppliers to seek an entry warrant simply to fit smart metering equipment.”

There is never a guarantee with regard to legislation but this can be used as far as I am concerned as a definitive statement.

However, health issues and of course interference from the devices may still be a problem if your neighbours have them installed.


Most of the people who would utilise the information available from a smart meter can already ascertain most of the data they need from consumption labels that are ere attached to most electrical devices.
The smart meter, for the majority of the population, is of little or no direct benefit to them and they should not be required to pay for it. Its real purpose is to make economies for the supplier and as such should be paid for as a part of the supply overhead by either raising the cash from the open market or from savings made at each phase of their introduction. Consumers should not be paying either directly or indirectly for the introduction of a cost saving measure and the ensuing cost savings should be returned to the consumer on completion of the project. The profits and investors dividends should be capped in all service industries which provide essential life support services to their customers or vital economic services to society to ensure stability and reduce profiteering. Their accounts should also be transparent and available for public inspection. This should include banks!!

Mordenman says:
18 January 2012

I remain as convinced now as I ever was, that the ultimate purpose of these meters is to increase the cost per unit (KWh) to try to iron out the peak time usage. You could find your costs increasing wildly at morning, midday and evening when topping up the generating capacity is costly over the base load. If you choose not to have a meter installed you would be compelled to take a higher tariff. It would be promoted as ‘reducing’ the cost of off peak energy …. by which I mean it might not increase as much as it otherwise would.
Incidentally … how many times are we going to be subjected to the old ‘put it up by 20% and brag about reducing it by 5% when it gets embarrassing’ scam ?


I last commented on this subject in October. Since then the same fears and dislikes are appearing in this ‘conversation’. I have Smart Meters on both my gas and electricity systems. I believe that they are working to my advantage at the moment. I have been downloading my consumption figures that become available to me about two days in arrears. The electricity usage details are available as half-hourly kWhr meter readings whereas the gas consumption is recorded each day in cubic meters. My monthly bills give me the details such as the calorific value of the fuel and conversion factors to enable me to calculate the energy content of the gas I use – again in kWhrs. I am discovering just how leaky my house is and I will be doing something about it. I think I should point out that any electromagnetic radiation contamination of the environment associated with this practice is minimal. The data is transmitted from my meters after midnight each day as an accumulated burst that, with broadband rates getting higher on a daily basis, must last for only a tiny fraction of a second! This must be negligible when compared with SatNav, mobile phone and computer hot-spot usage.
However, I think we should be aware of the future developments that are planned for our national system for the distribution of energy round the country. Smart Meters are only the tip of the technology that is being actively investigated. Our Government’s continuing devotion to a Green future is committing us to fund an additional National Grid, probably a DC Smart Grid that would be more efficient at transmitting electricity from off-shore at one end of the country to the other. Electricity will eventually be used for space-heating (to replace gas) and for transport. The advent of electrical power sources for vehicles will require energy distribution systems that are powerful enough to deliver at least as much energy as our current petrol station and gas networks. Naturally, the consumer will have to pay for this infrastructure.
The emergence of electrical vehicles will eventually provide the ultimate prize for the generating industry – energy storage. All those cars sitting in their garages with their cells charged whenever the wind is blowing and ready for the next generation of smart meters to switch you to a Feed-In Tariff. It will all need a versatile Smart Grid. At the moment the tax-payer is funding a significant fraction of the R&D budget for these projects.
It is possible that when all the R&D is done and the infrastructure built, we will have achieved national security of our energy supply. There will then be only two areas of threat remaining. Cyber attack on the grid control system and coronal mass ejection from the Sun causing a strong geomagnetic storm to blow all our fuses – but I’m sure we can rely on technology to come up with answers. I’ll give you some clues if you ask!

nothstar says:
4 June 2012

“I think I should point out that any electromagnetic radiation contamination of the environment associated with this practice is minimal. The data is transmitted from my meters after midnight each day as an accumulated burst that, with broadband rates getting higher on a daily basis, must last for only a tiny fraction of a second! This must be negligible when compared with SatNav, mobile phone and computer hot-spot usage.”

This is so far off the mark its not even funny.

The data may be transmitted like you say, a short burst, but as for the rest of that sentence its not even close to the truth.

The way these meters work is on a network, one meter receives data from another and sends it to another and that sends it to another… you get the picture. What all this means is these meters are fare worse than a mobile phone, or the other devices you mentioned, because they are on receiving and sending data 24/7 while people are using electricity and have a smart meter in their house, you could be in bed using no electricity but your meter will still be in use talking to that other meter in burst all through the day and night as electricity is used by anyone within transmitting/receiving distance of your meter.

Your house wiring also acts like an antenna amplifying the signal (by how much i don’t know) which interferes with all your electrical devices, in some cases can break them.

So what does all this mean – It means your meter is on all the time, you cant switch it off like a mobile phone, therefore you are bathed in all this electrosmog constantly without a break. This may not concern you, (as it doesn’t many others), but there’s a lot of people who suffer because of these sorts of things that are sensitive to them.

And lets face it, health comes before anything else, such as making it easier for companies to read your meter and any benefits you may get from having one. Personally i think they should remove all installed meters till they find a safer way.

Letta Mego says:
9 April 2012

The utility company, the engineers, the physicist, and the leader of your country don’t know beans about biology and are not qualified to tell you these idiot “smart meters’ are safe. Noted scientist and organizations around the world have spoken up saying smart meters may cause serious health problems. Smart meters emit “dirty” electricity continuously 24 hours a day even when not tansmitting information. Switching-Mode Power Supply or SMPS. This element in the ‘smart’ meter controversy deserves immediate full official and public attention. The SMPS function emits sharp spikes of millisecond bursts constantly, 24/7. The SMPS have been measured to emit spikes of up to 50,000 hz and higher. This constant pulsing of high frequencies, in addition to the RF function, is causing not only interference with other electric and electronic equipment in many homes with smart meters installed, but also is causing havoc with biological systems in its field of exposure.


I thought the Switched Mode Power Supplies had been ubiquitous for many years. They are in every computer, DC motor controller, portable electronicsa device licensed for use in multiple states etc, etc. I am obviously quite ignorant. Please give me some references to peer-reviewed publications that have actually measured the electro-magnetic interference outupt from SMPS powered equipment and as to whether it offends against the EMI contamination limits contained in legislation in the UK.


“The utility company, the engineers, the physicist, and the leader of your country don’t know beans about biology and are not qualified to tell you these idiot “smart meters’ are safe. Noted scientist and organizations around the world have spoken up saying smart meters may cause serious health problems.”
AGREED. (It’s quite plain for even the lowliest level of intellect that the utilities and the government neither know nor care about safety, and I don’t just mean health, but are only interested in increasing their profit and control.)

“Smart meters emit “dirty” electricity continuously 24 hours a day even when not tansmitting information.”
ERRRR…….. well they certainly emit levels of radio waves which are still neither proven safe or unsafe because they’ve not been around long enough for anyone to be sure, but there is considerable caution urged by many leading and highly eminent scientists.

With regard to Switched Mode Power Supplies, I am not YET aware of any studies which link these to health issues when in normal operation, however there IS proof that they are less safe than power supplies using isolating transformers when they either develop a fault or are interfered with. They are also known to run hotter than equivalent transformer-based supplies ( so potentially there could be an increased fire risk), they are more likely to fail than transformer-based supplies and when they do fail they are more likely to cause damage to connected equipment and / or to surrounding property than transformer-based supplies.

However, although health issues are certainly to be regarded with higher respect than has been afforded to date, I maintain that the real concern should be about:

1) the complete mis-selling of Smart Meters as “Meters” at all: the proposed designs are remotely operating electricity and gas disconnection devices (which happen to have a metering facility built in). In any other product or service Trading Standards and the Government would be up in arms about this false advertising.
2) the absolute disregard of (in fact complete failure to recognise) the issues over data security and the potential for the meters to be “hacked”.


If you are worried about radiation emitted by switched mode power supplies you are going to have to dispose of your computer, TV and many of the power adapters/chargers supplied with modern domestic equipment. These power supplies were introduced in 1970s and have become popular due to their light weight and reliability.


The reason I appredciate Which Conversations is that they provide the platform for civilised and reasoned conversations. I would hate to see them descending into the sort of slanging matches that you can find in Blogs and other Protest subjects.

Having got that off my chest I would like to explain where I am coming from. 50+ years ago I considered the shape of civilisation on this planet when all fossil fuels had been exhausted. At that time I didn’t know enough about genetic manipulation to conceive of biological material for direct solar generation of liquid fuels. The scenario without this was dire with territorial warfare for fossile reserves. I then went nuclear and founs fusion the answer. Unfortunately I was one of those who proved the neutrons from Zeta to be non thermonuclear. Now the solution, in my opinion, has to be safe liquid-fueld nuclear reactors based on thorium. Read that on Google and look at your future. Fail safe and consuming all that unburnt fuel we like to call nuclear waste. I could go on for hours but all this has to involve a technological future. We have tasted the apple of elecyricity and can’t live without it.
There’ lets start a new Converastion!


Hi all, I thought that you might be interested in this webchat that’s happening on Monday: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/sm_webchat/sm_webchat.aspx The Department of Energy and Climate change is holding a live chat about the smart meter rollout, and recent consultations they released.

Just thought I’d flag it up in case you wanted to put any of your questions directly to the DECC team. They’ll have representatives from policy, technical and communications. The webchat takes place at 2pm on Monday but you can submit your questions in advance today and over the weekend if you’d like.

Letta Mego says:
26 May 2012

Int J Microbiol. 2012; 2012: 587293.
Published online 2012 April 2. doi
In the modern society, greater use of technologies leads to increasing exposure to extremely low-frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by structures and appliances such as power lines and ordinary devices used inside house and work places. As consequence, the effects of ELF-EMFs on the biological functions of living organisms represent an emerging area of interest with respect to environmental influences on human health.
In latest years, several studies have been performed to verify direct effects exerted by ELF-EMF on cell functions.
Although results have been somewhat controversial,
a variety of cell responses have been observed involving proliferation and differentiation [1–10],
gene expression [11–14],
modulation of the membrane receptors functionality [15–20],
apoptosis [21–23],
alteration in ion homeostasis [1, 6, 13, 24–26],
and free radicals generation [25, 27–30].

This study investigated the effects of exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (2mT; 50Hz) on the growth rate and antibiotic sensitivity of E. coli
and and P. aeruginosa.
It is well known that the effects of ELF-EMF generally depend on both physical and biological parameters, including field signal characteristics (frequency, amplitude, wave shape, etc.), duration of exposure, cell metabolic state, genotype, and how long cells are allowed to grow before, during, and after exposure.


Extremely low frequency (ELF) is sometimes regarded as frequencies up to 300Hz and is often thought of in context of the frequency used for alternating current used to supply household electricity. That is 50Hz in the UK and 60Hz in the US.

I am not sure what frequencies smart meters transmit but it will be very much higher frequency. If you want to avoid ELF you and your neighbours will have to live in a house without electricity and away from supply cables or pylons. If you don’t have electricity you will not have a smart meter.

The paper you have cited is irrelevant to radio frequency emission by smart meters.

Letta Mego says:
27 May 2012

Suggest you read “Disconnect” The truth about cell phone radiation, what the industry has done t hide it, and how to protect your family… by Devra Davis. We have a right to choose what kind of devices enter out homes. There are thousands of studies that show this technology is harmful. We have a right to say no to smart meters and to smart meter appliances. No, we don’t have to live without electricity to avoid cell phone type emissions such as those used by two-way wireless transmitting smart meters.


I am not suggesting that radiation emitted by smart meters or cell phones is safe, or dangerous. My point is that the paper you have cited is totally irrelevant because these devices do not emit extremely low frequently radiation.

An important factor is the inverse square law, which you need to understand when considering any form of radiation. A mobile phone subjects our brain to much more intense radiation than a wireless router, smart meter or microwave because it is normally held close to the ear. The frequency of radiation varies according to device, which can have an effect. Hopefully this is explained in the book you mention, otherwise it is not a very useful book for the general public.


Thought you all might like to start considering this – http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/alert-smart-water-meters-to-be-installed-in-uk-homes/ – seems they will have the same capability as electricity and gas meters proposed.

AKA they will be able to remotely deny you of water.

Letta Mego says:
1 July 2012

Smart meters emit radiation whether they are transmitting or not. They are on 24 hour a day. Smart meters have 2 antennae…one emits radiation into the house and the other emits radiation out ward to the “smart grid”. The top scientists who know cellular biology agree this kind of technology is harmful. Big industry is push this down our thoats …and the employees who work for utility companies and for telecommunication need their jobs….and will say anything and anyway, they don’t know what they are talking about when it come to the effects on living cells. Government and big business have never had any trouble lying, cheating and murdering when it comes to money.

Letta Mego says:
1 July 2012

Smart meters subject our whole bodies to radiation 24 hours a day..they are never off…You cannot compare a cell phone on your ear for a few hours a day…. to the whole body 24 hours a day emissions of smart meters.. Smart meters are far more harmful than cell phones.. And cell phones are voluntary…you can turn them off or chose not to have them…you can choose not to have wireless technology in you home. Don’t be stupid enough to allow utility companies to force this stuff on you. Get involved. Fight back.

Ian Mills says:
24 August 2012

Smart meters!

I have to laugh or I’ll cry- I have just driven 400 miles from Torquay to Carlisle to see my 83 year old mother in Law. BG seem to be rolling out smart meters here and they have just yesterday fitted smart meters with the display gadget that shows you you have left on the TV or goes red when you boil the kettle. Very interesting , except the fitting team left her with no heating or hot water! They left without testing the system! They then sent another guy and he couldnt fix it! Still no heating or hot water! I am now waiting in for BG while my MIL has gone to a hospital appointment on the bus! Its not good service!


Hello Ian

Far from ideal! I have sent your comment to British Gas. It’s important that all of the energy suppliers are able to sort out problems like this quickly, especially as 50 million meters are planned to be replaced.

I do hope that your mother-in-law has gas and electricity restored quickly.



You have my sympathy, hope your 83 year old mother in Law has services restored very soon.
But, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
50 million of the useless things costing us no doubt through bill suppliments £11 billion, and very probably much more.
If only 0.5% of installation are problematic, and I think it will be greater than that, a quarter of a million people will be presented with problems they never had before, and totally needlessly.
“But I’m sure the detailed information this smart meter will provide your mother in law with will be invaluable, and save her a fortune” NOT.
And “Which” who we’d hope should know better, in principle supports the dam things.
You couldn’t make it up could you?


Hi Ian

We are very sorry to hear that the installation of your mother-in-law’s smart meter led to a failure of her hot water and heating systems, and that our engineers were not able to fix these on the first visit.

We do hope that all these problems have now been resolved. If there are any further issues you would like us to look into, please email us at TalktoUs@britishgas.co.uk and we would be very happy to help.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused to you and your family.

Best wishes



@British Gas: I think you missed the point, the engineers LEFT without making sure it was all working properly.

It is incumbent on the engineers to check functionality and operation after such a change. I suspect (you can correct me if I am wrong) but doing that on every installation will significantly increase installation costs – well hard luck!

I am fortunate in as much that I have already indicated I will NOT accept the installation of such meters and that has been accepted including the fact that if I move home and my new home has meters installed that they will be removed / replaced at NO charge to myself.

If on the other hand this were not the case then in the circumstances indicated I would advise British Gas or any supplier of energy that I would book myself and family into a hotel until the problem was resolved and send the bill to them. If it was not paid I would undertake to take them to the small claims court to recover costs.

@Any Energy Supplier: you need to get your process in order even if you need to subcontract the work.

@Sub-contractors: Make sure you cover the time necessary to resolve faults before moving on to the next installation AND be prepared to leave a contact number with the previous installation home owner and immediately undertake to return that same day to resolve – working 24/7 until it is resolved.

Jane says:
7 March 2013

I feel as if I am in the minority in this conversation

Having moved temporarily into a rented flat fitted with smart meters last autumn, I would hate to go back to conventional meters.

The flat has electric heating and immersion heater and through the winter i have taken regular readings of my usage. I have also worked out how much things like washing machines etc cost.

The smart meter is not one of the more sophisticated type and I have to input info into my own excel spreadsheet. It has enabled me to learn how to heat the flat within a sensible budget with a high degree of accuracy. With energy possibly becoming in short supply in the future, we have got to learn to use energy more efficiently.

My main complaint is that it was fitted by British Gas, but as I have now transferred to another provider and they cannot read it, so I now have to send in readings.

Providing there adequate data protection in the system, I think some peoples concerns are unfounded. I am more concerned about the amount of information that communication companies can access form my broadband and mobile phone. That is frightening.


Sounds like your so called “smart meter” has provided you with nothing that was not possible with the old standard meter. You could still compile your spreadsheet and monitor usage. Big difference of course is the £11 billion cost to us all to roll out these things. That money will never be recovered by the consumer.


Like Jane, I have found Smart Meters work for me – so far. I signed up with First Utility a couple of years ago and they fitted a couple of meters free of charge. They give me downloadable records of my consumption, daily recordings for gas and half-hourly for electricity. This suits me fine because I know I have a very leaky house – and FU annoyingly tell me that I have above average consumption. The gas recordings are useful because I have been able to correlate consumption with published local air temperature measurements. I do this because I am a nerd and I find it useful to be able to discover the effects of any improvements I have made – or plan on making.
Another advantage of having spread-sheetable records is to change the unit rates and standing charges that FU plan to increase from 1st April this year. This has shown me that I should plan to pay more than GBP700 more over the next year if the air temperatures performance will be the same as this last year. So I must make some dramatic improvements to my insulation and leakage – or switch to a cheaper supplier. Only one snag. I don’t know if a future supplier will be able to use my existing Smart Meters or whether FU might want their freebies back.
Another advantage of the electricity meter readings is its suitability for analysis by some freebie software (from others). This has enabled me to see how much more electrical energy I consume when cooking in the evenings or when the rest of the family descend for Sunday Lunch! I am also planning to analyse whether it would be cost effective to re-organise the family’s shopping habits and decommission the spare fridge or freezer in the garage – and whether it would be worth the domestic rebellion that would undoubtedly result from this!


Have any price comparison sites ( not forgetting Which? Switch) got plans for a service where they take downloads from smart-meter data continuously so that they can advise you that a supplier switch (or change of consumer habits) could save?


Although the government has said no one will be forced to have a smart meter installed, it does seem that every new build property has to have one [for electricity at least] and the energy supplier will not substitute a simple meter even at a charge. The homeowner could possibly change suppliers as soon as the exit penalty period elapses but they would either be forced to accept a replacement smart meter [because the property never ever had a simple meter] or, even if a replacement simple meter was allowed, would presumably have to meet the expense of having the smart meter replaced by a simple meter acceptable to the new supplier; ther might also be a penalty in the tariff.


As far as I am concerned they would have to replace free of charge or I would remove the meter myself!

C V Horie says:
25 March 2017

OVO is trying to persuade me to have a smart meter fitted. Somewhere in their literature is a statement that the smart meter will record the amount of both the generation of electricity, and the exported electricity. The current situation is that the Export payment I receive is based on 50% of the amount generated, as deemed usage. The proposal appears to be that the payment I shall receive will be based on the amount exported. I currently try to use as much as possible in house by switching on washing machines, dehumidifiers etc when the sun shines.
Has Which done a cost-benefit analysis of this situation, which must be quite common? Will I lose or make money by having the smart meter fitted? There must be a relatively simple equation to work out the sums, but I do not know the underlying assumptions.


C V Horle-I do not know if Which has done a cost benefit analysis but there is at least one regular poster here who is in accountancy . As regards the technical side there are two types of smart meters which are actually interval meters as they export readings at 30 minute intervals , there are-#1- a gross meter or -#2- a net meter . In a gross feed-in tariff scheme your gross meter separately measures the total electricity consumed by your household and the total electricity generated by your solar panels system -your electric company reads the meter and determines the total amount of electricity generated ,regardless of whether it goes into the grid or is used by you. On a net feed -in tariff scheme , your meter measures your household electricity and the electricity generated by you regardless of whether it goes into the grid or is used by you. Normally the cost of supplying a smart meter ends up with you paying an additional tariff on your monthly billing rates also changing from/to off-peak rates or time of use tariff changes the pricing structure . I would be VERY careful here its not as simple as OVO is making out