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Switching supplier with a smart meter
Having a smart meter does not affect your right to switch supplier. If your new supplier uses the same meter as your old supplier, you should be able to carry on using it. If you have an in-home display (IHD), it will show near real-time information about your energy use, but your new supplier will need to re-programme your meter with your new tariff before the IHD can tell you how much you are spending.
There are problems with first generation (SMETS1) smart meters losing meter functionality on change of supplier. Suppliers must inform you of this risk. If you have a SMETS1 meter, it may lose some smart functionality depending on which energy supplier you switch to, although the IHD should still work and show real-time information about your energy use.
SMETS1 meters are expected to be upgraded and enrolled into the collection system by end of December 2023 which should ensure continuity should customers switch supplier.
Second generation smart meters (SMETS2) – installed from 2018 onwards – can be operated by all suppliers. The widespread adoption of these meters is expected to result in greater consumer engagement and stronger competition between energy suppliers due to the increased ease of switching. The roll-out of smart meters has been slower than originally anticipated and a ’full’ roll-out is not expected until 2025.
Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS)
SMETS is the standard for the minimum common functionality of smart meters.
SMETS1 meters use two-way communications between suppliers and their customers to provide smart services. SMETS1 meters contain a SIM card that connects to the supplier over the cellular network. However, suppliers have implemented different communications technologies meaning that these meters often lose their smart capabilities when customers switch supplier. In such circumstances, the SMETS1 meter can no longer benefit from two-way communications, effectively rendering it a ‘dumb’ meter.
The second generation of meters (SMETS2) operate using DCC’s national data and communications infrastructure and aims to operate consistently for all consumers that have SMETS2 meters, regardless of their supplier. This means that there will be no loss of communication when a SMETS2 meter switches to a new supplier.