Smart meter FAQs
Find out the facts about smart meters, with our dedicated FAQs page covering all the main topics. From In Home Displays to Safety, Security and Data, simply search by subject and set your mind at rest with the minimum of fuss or bother.
Getting a smart meter
Smart meters give you access to a lot more data – and that helps you to get a lot smarter with your energy use.
In the future, once everyone has a smart meter (as part of the government rollout), people will be able to switch supplier faster, they’ll be able to link up other smart devices, and they’ll also be able to use their data to help them save money on their energy bills.
With smart meters, you don't have to give readings anymore – and if you’re paying as you go for your energy, there are also other huge benefits. For instance, you can use apps and online appliances to top up without having to touch the meter, or go to the shop.
Typically smart meters are installed wherever your gas and electricity meters are currently located.
Yes – if you use both gas and electricity at home, both meters need to be replaced. If we supply both fuels to your property, we aim to install both meters on the same visit, to make things as easy as possible. Handily though, you’ll only need one In-Home Display to view both your gas and electricity use.
No, an internet connection isn’t necessary for smart meters to work. Depending on your location, your smart meters will communicate by either using existing mobile or radio signals in your area.
Even if you live in an area with poor mobile telephone reception, a SMETS2 smart meter should still work in your home. This latest generation of smart meters isn’t reliant on a mobile phone network – and by the end of the rollout, this network will have coverage across 99.25% of Great Britain.
SMETS stands for Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification. This is a specification for smart meters defined by the government. Essentially, it guarantees a uniform technical specification during the government rollout. The latest version is SMETS 2. Find out more about SMETS1 and SMETS 2 meters here.
Your installation is free, but if existing meters, faulty wiring, or gas leaks need fixing before we can safely fit your smart meters, there may be a charge. We’ll let you know about any charges before we carry out the work.
Nothing about your plan, contract or pricing with OVO will change. The only difference will be that you have a shiny new meter, and you’ll no longer need to give us readings – which means your statements will be 100% accurate.
The government wants all homes to have smart meters by 2024. Although energy suppliers are obliged to offer smart meters to all their customers, you don't have to accept an installation. Having said that, there may well soon be a law in place that says all homes should have smart meters. Also, be aware that regulators are allowing suppliers to charge more if you have a traditional, rather than a smart meter, as old meters are more costly, and less efficient for the energy grid. So we really recommend that you get one!
If you have any concerns or issues that might stop you from getting a smart meter, we’re here to help. Feel free to send any questions to the team via Facebook, Twitter or our Help centre’s online chat function.
Your smart meter installation
We’ll offer you a whole range of choices for your smart meter installation – either 8am-12 noon, 10am-2pm, 12 noon-4pm or 2pm-6pm. This is the time slot during which the engineer will arrive, rather than the time in which the installation will be completed. So if, for example, you choose the morning slot, the engineer might arrive at 11.30am and stay until after 12.30pm.
When you book your smart meter appointment, we’ll tell you all the slots that are available in your area for the next 8 weeks. You simply choose the morning or afternoon that suits you best. The available appointments could be any time over the next 8 weeks – so you might even be able to have your installation this week.
Usually one – but in some cases we may need to send more than one engineer to your home. If so, we’ll get in touch first to make sure that’s okay with you.
You can tell that an engineer is from OVO, as they’ll be in uniform and will carry an ID card. Just ask them to show it to you. We work with engineers from third party companies, including Lowri Beck and SMS. If you’re contacted by a company claiming to work for OVO, but whose name you don’t recognise, just give us a call and we’ll check that they’re legitimate.
There are a few things we need you to do before and on the day of your appointment, to make sure everything runs smoothly:
- When we send you confirmation of our visit, make a note of the date and time so you don’t forget.
- Make sure someone over the age of 18 is available to be in the property to let our engineer in, and stay there for the whole time the installer is in your home. If there’s nobody over 18 in your home when the engineer arrives, you may have to pay a £30 fee.
- Clear the area around your existing meters and move any obstructions so that the engineer can get at them easily.
- Make sure the area around your meters is clean and tidy – the engineers have to be able to work in a safe, clean environment. If they can’t get to your meter, we may need to postpone the appointment, and we might charge you for this.
- Switch off and unplug any sensitive electrical equipment, like your TV, satellite system or alarms – but remember to switch them back on again after the installation. Some older appliances may be difficult to get going again, so please make sure you know how to get them started – for example, how to relight the pilot light in your boiler.
- Please keep any dogs or other animals in a separate room, away from the engineer during the installation.
- Our engineers need to keep their shoes on for health and safety reasons, but they’ll use covers when they’re inside your house to stop your floors getting dirty. Please let us know in advance if this is a problem for you.
Before your appointment we’ll send you a confirmation letter telling you everything you need to know about your smart meter installation. We’ll also send you reminders before your installation date so you know when you (or someone else over the age of 18) will need to be at home to let our engineer in.
About 45-60 minutes for each smart meter, so that’s 90 minutes if you’re having both gas and electricity meters replaced. Your gas and electricity will both be disconnected for about 20 minutes each.
Before and after your electricity meter is installed, the engineer will do a test with a plug socket, to check that everything is working the way it was before the installation. If you're having a gas meter installed, the engineer will check your larger gas appliances such as boilers, cookers or gas fires to make sure your gas supply is flowing properly.
If you need to change or cancel your appointment, get in touch with us straight away. You’ll need to give us at least 24 hours’ notice, or you may have to pay a £30 cancellation fee.
Indeed they are. As part of the UK government’s smart meter initiative, all smart meter installers need to meet a set of national standards which are set out in the Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice. All our OVO engineers (and anyone we work with in partnership to carry out installations for us) will have the correct accreditation and training to complete your installation safely.
We’ll send you a survey once the installation is complete, so you can give us feedback on how you feel it all went (and hopefully tell us some nice things about your experience!).
The Smart Meter Installation Schedule (SMIS) is a set of rules and standards that make sure that you get a great experience and excellent service when you’re having your smart meter installed.
At OVO, we've signed up to this schedule (of course). And we always ensure our engineers are fully trained, so they offer the best possible service.
The schedule covers many parts of the installation process, like:
- Helping you understand how to use your smart equipment, so you can get the most from it
- Making sure our engineers are trained to the highest standards
- Giving you all the info you need
- Giving extra support to anyone who’s vulnerable, or who might need special help
- Showing you how to check your energy use, so you can spot patterns and make small changes that could help you save energy
- Keeping you informed, quickly, on progress if something's not right with your smart equipment
Safety during smart meter appointments
Yes, smart meter appointments are safely going ahead – with strict safety measures in place. With new restrictions in place across the country, we’re continuing to follow the government's advice.
Yes, smart meter appointments are safely going ahead - with strict safety measures in place. With new restrictions in place across the country, we're continuing to follow the government's advice.
We can only carry out appointments where it’s safe to do so. This means we still won’t be carrying out non-emergency appointments in homes where anyone is unwell or self-isolating from coronavirus.
We install smart meters because they help you to manage your energy better. Smart meters send readings automatically, so you get more accurate bills, and a clearer understanding of how you’re using energy - meaning you have a chance to cut energy use and carbon emissions.
Our full risk assessment for smart meter operations can be found here and for office workers here. You can also see confirmation that we comply with the government guidance on Staying COVID-19 Secure here.
Our top priority is the safety of you and our teams. Our engineers are trained to take strict precautions to keep everyone safe, while they carry out smart meter appointments. They’ll be wearing PPE, and they’ll observe social distancing while in your home – keeping at least 2m away from you and asking you to stay in another room if possible. Before they enter your home, they’ll check that no one is self isolating. And, if this is the case, they won’t be able to carry out the installation.
Our top priority is the same: to keep you and our teams safe. They're specially trained to take strict precautions while they're inside your home. We'll be following all the latest government guidance - including in areas where a local lockdown is in place:
- On the day of your appointment, our team will call ahead to check it’s still safe to visit. They’ll ask if anyone in your household is unwell, or self-isolating. If this is the case, your appointment will need to be rescheduled.
- When the engineer arrives, they’ll check this again with you in person.
- Our engineers will wear masks while they're in your home. The only time they might remove their mask is when it's safe to do so - for example, if they're working alone in a room - and they'll always check with you beforehand.
- Our engineers will also be observing social distancing, which includes asking you to stay safe in another room while they work. Wherever possible, please give the engineer space to work safely.
- Our engineer may take more frequent breaks to get fresh air. They will also ask you to open windows and doors close to the meter for the duration of their visit.
To minimise the time our engineers spend in your home, they may work in a slightly different way to usual. This means that they might install a smart meter but not switch on its smart functions. Don’t worry, you’ll still be left with a working meter. And, if any of this happens we’ll return as soon as we can to finish the job.
All our engineers will stop working immediately if anyone shows any symptoms of coronavirus, during their visit.
Important: if you or anyone in your home feels unwell before your appointment, please give us a call on 0330 303 5063 and we’ll work through your options.
Unfortunately not. We’re taking strict measures to keep both you and our teams safe, so this means we’re not able to carry out smart meter appointments for people who are self-isolating.
Yes, no problem - you can reschedule the appointment by calling us on 0330 303 5063.
Important: if you’re showing any symptoms of coronavirus, please make sure to reschedule for after the two week self-isolation period.
No, we won’t charge you a cancellation fee if you need to cancel because of a coronavirus-related situation, or if you become unwell.
You can take the following steps to make sure things are as safe as possible:
- Before your appointment, disinfect the area around your meter where the engineer will be working. Do this again after they leave.
- Open windows and doors in the room where the engineer will be working.
- Make sure the engineer has clear access to your meters, and they’re free from clutter.
- Stay at least 2m away from the engineer at all times. If possible, go into a different room while they’re installing your meter, and make sure pets are kept out of the way.
We’ll call you the day before your appointment to check it’s still safe for us to visit. Please tell us if you or anyone in your household is unwell or self-isolating. When the engineer arrives, they will check this with you again.
When you book, we’ll share even more info about what to do before, during and after your appointment, to stay as safe as possible.
If you’re not able to maintain social distancing of at least 2m during your appointment (because of the size/layout of your home or for any other reason) then please don’t book one. We won’t be able to carry it out safely.
If you’ve already booked a smart meter appointment but you don’t think you’ll be able to maintain social distancing, please cancel. You can do this via your appointment confirmation email, through your online account or on our app.
Smart meters come with an optional (and free of charge) In-Home Display, which shows you how much energy you’re using and what it’s costing you. You can see how much you're using now, or how much you’ve used over the last hours, days, weeks or months.
You’ll be able to log in to your account online to learn more about your energy use, costs, and how this compares to what you've used in the past. \ You can also upgrade your plan to OVO Beyond for insights into how to cut your energy waste, and to supercharge your journey to zero carbon.
You’ll get an IHD on the day of your smart meter installation (unless you decide you don’t want one). Our engineer will set it up and give you a demonstration on how it works.
Most In-Home Displays have a handy 3 minute tutorial that shows you the main features using some example energy use data. Access the tutorial by pressing the Home button, then the right arrow button five times.
An IHD keeps you up-to-date with how much energy you’re using, and what it’s costing you. You can change the screen to show your current use, or your use over the last few hours, days, weeks or months. You can see how much you’re using in kilowatt hours (kWh), and what it’s costing you.\ You can even use the IHD to set alerts to help you keep track of your usage. Or, if you want to limit the daily amount of energy you use, you can set it to warn you when you’re getting close to a level of kWh or cost each day.
Safety, security and data
Smart meters have been rigorously tested for safety. They’ve passed all the UK and EU regulations that make sure a product is safe. These are the same regulations that your phone, microwave, and TV will have had to pass too.
Your smart meter automatically sends us readings. This means your bills are accurate and we can tell quickly if there’s any interruption to your energy supply.
We can check the info from your smart meter, and use it to:
- Manage your energy supply, and spot any problems as soon as they happen
- Give you relevant advice to help you reduce your energy use and lower your bills
- Improve our service for you and other members
- Develop and manage energy supply and demand
If we need to use the information for anything else, we’ll get in touch to talk it through with you and explain why.
Smart meters are super secure. We use safety measures agreed with the government (like encryption) to make sure that any data your smart meter shares with us is always safe and private. We also follow strict rules set out by the industry regulator, Ofgem, and all your personal data is safeguarded by the Data Protection Act too.
Smart meters don't use the internet and have their own closed communications system. It's been designed with top cybersecurity experts, including the government's security and intelligence organisation, GCHQ. This means your data can't be seen by anyone but you and us.
We ask you to choose how often your smart meter sends readings when you first book an appointment. You can change this anytime after the installation by calling us.\ The more often you share your readings, the more feedback we'll be able to give you...which can help you save even more energy.\ Sharing half-hourly readings can help you understand more about your energy use. (Most OVO members choose this option.) \ Sharing daily readings means you won't get as much info about your energy use. (It's the default option if you don't tell us otherwise.)\ Sharing monthly readings means you won't receive feedback about your energy use on a day-to-day basis.
Switching supplier, plans and bills
Yes you can. Having a smart meter doesn’t change your right to switch energy suppliers. Here are a few things to know before you switch;
- If you have a latest generation SMETS2 meter, you'll be able to switch without an issue.
- If you have a first-generation SMETS1 meter you might find that your meter loses some of its whizzy smart features. But the good news is that thanks to a remote software update planned to finish by the end of 2021, all smart meters will soon be compatible with all suppliers.
Yes. You’ll still receive regular energy bills in the same way you do now, whether that's in the post or online. The only difference is that now they'll be 100% accurate, without you having to submit a manual meter reading.
First and foremost, it’s important to stress that having a smart meter installed will not increase your bills. There are no hidden costs, and your plan won't change.
The only purpose of a smart meter is to measure your energy use and take readings, so we can send you accurate bills. If you haven't previously given regular readings, your bills may have been estimated and not accurate. This means that your bills may appear higher after having a smart meter reading, because your previous estimated bills weren’t always covering the amount of energy you actually used.
With estimated bills, there's a higher chance of people underpaying and slipping into debt without realising. But with a smart meter, you – and your supplier! – can see how much energy you're using and how much you should be paying. That means you can have precise information about what you're using and what you're spending. Then you can stay on top of your household bills responsibly, and with no nasty surprises down the line!
Be aware that your first bill after installation may also be higher than usual. This is because it might take up to 6 weeks to be issued – so in effect it covers an extra 2 weeks of energy.
To get free and impartial advice on usage costs, along with helpful ideas to reduce your energy use, check out the Centre for Sustainable Energy.