Is it finally time to get a smart meter and will they save you money? We look at whether the gadgets are safe – and if your supplier can really cut you off

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  • Despite the new price cap, bills will still be twice as high as they were last winter.
  • Smart meters automatically send regular meter readings to your ISP
  • Some vendors are reluctant to offer devices due to global hardware shortages.
  • Concern: Devices put stranded households at risk of being remotely disabled

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As winter approaches, energy price spikes will soon hit the country. Despite the new price ceiling, bills will still double last year.

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And as households frantically search for ways to cut costs, many will be carefully monitoring their energy use like never before.

So now it’s finally time to get a smart meter? In addition to automatically sending regular readings to your ISP, which should mean more accurate billing, these gadgets come with a monitor that shows your usage in real time.

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Keep track of your bills: In addition to automatically sending regular meter readings to your ISP, smart meters come with a small, portable monitor that shows your usage in real time.

This allows you to keep track of your expenses and may encourage you to turn off lights or appliances when you are not using them.

But there are pitfalls. You only have to scroll through the energy giants’ Twitter accounts to see messages from customers complaining that their meters have stopped working or resulted in overbilling.

Today, we may also announce that some vendors are currently refusing to offer devices due to a global shortage of parts.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that firms will be able to switch struggling households to prepaid meters at the push of a button, leaving them in danger of shutting down.

Here we explain what you need to pay attention to before registering. . .

Can I get one?

The government has ordered energy providers to install smart meters in homes and businesses across the UK. It is not required by law and customers can opt-out if they wish.

However, firms face hefty fines if they don’t meet strict targets, which has led many to adopt harsh marketing tactics.

Last week, Ovo sent out a letter to customers informing them that from October 1, only those with a smart meter will be eligible for the “100 percent renewable electricity” tariff. It said, “Getting a free smart meter is the easiest way to help build a greener energy system.”

EDF Energy came under fire last month after it sent a letter to customers saying, “We need to install your smart meter as part of a government-led upgrade.” One client wrote online: “I am horrified by the letter I received today from EDF Energy. There is no “need” for you to install a smart meter in my house and you “need to do it”.

EDF says it encourages customers to install it, but makes it clear they can opt out.

However, in some families, the opposite problem is observed. British Gas recently informed a client that it is currently unable to install smart meters due to “problems” in the market. In a letter seen by Money Mail, the supplier said it would not update the meters until the end of 2022 or “beginning of next year.”

The energy watchdog pointed out that this is an industry-wide problem. A spokesperson said: “Ofgem is aware of stakeholder concerns related to inventory of smart meter equipment arising from the global shortage of semiconductor components. We do not know or expect vendors to refuse installation because of this.

“Ofgem regularly communicates with suppliers in case of unresolved issues.

“When households face massive increases in energy bills, it is especially important that suppliers are held accountable and that any unscrupulous practices are quickly rooted out.”

There are about 29.5 million smart meters installed in the UK to date, meaning that about half of them still need to be upgraded.

British Gas says the shortage has been addressed and they continue to install smart meters with over 500,000 installed this year.

My new device is not working

Teething problems: Amanda Overend's smart meter is out of order

Teething problems: Amanda Overend’s smart meter is out of order

Mom-of-three Amanda Overend says she was ‘molested’ by EDF Energy to buy a smart meter.

Finally giving up in June, she found that the device was not working. Its display remained blank, which meant that Amanda had to continue to rely on old-fashioned meters and couldn’t see her usage in real time.

And the 43-year-old woman from Ilkley, West Yorkshire, is still waiting for her supplier to fix the gadget three months later.

Amanda, owner of Books & Pieces, an online children’s bookstore, says: “We come from a family that turns off the lights every time they leave the room.

“It has become even more important as the bills rise. A smart meter would be very useful.”

She adds: “When the engineer installed it, he said that it’s not uncommon for them (meters) not to work.”

EDF says it is repairing the device as a matter of urgency.

How much will my bills drop?

A key question customers are asking is: Can smart meters help them save money? They can be effective in monitoring usage, but you must act on the findings to cut your bills.

Many suppliers have previously offered cheaper rates to customers looking to purchase a new meter.

They disappeared when the energy crisis hit, but are expected to return once wholesale prices stabilize.

Industry insiders also told Money Mail that the real reason for the smart meter push is to encourage more people to upgrade to “time-of-use” plans.

These deals encourage customers to use energy during off-peak hours by charging lower prices. For example, if you use the dishwasher or washing machine at night, you will get a discount. The rates are especially convenient for people who charge electric vehicles at night.

Recently, the focus on this strategy has increased due to fears that power will be cut across the country this winter.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a sharp increase in wholesale energy prices. As a result, countries are pushing households to ration their energy, although Prime Minister Liz Truss has refrained from doing the same in the UK.

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