Doh!

I’m on a bit of a blogging roll and trying to finishing off some of the drafts I’d saved over the past few months!  In the middle of April, I was supposed to be getting my Gas and Electricity meters replaced for Smart Meters, but it turns out that most of the Smart Meters that are currently being installed aren’t actually that smart!

My current Gas and Electricity supplier is nPower, and they contacted me to arrange for the meters to be replaced.  I’d put it off for a good few months as I’d been working away and had been meaning to do a little research first.  I didn’t get around to it, and eventually just scheduled an installation date when I knew I’d be at home.

The Installation Engineer arrived at the scheduled time, and after checking the existing meters, brought everything into the house to do the job.  I even shut down my servers, knowing the electricity would need to be disconnected.  I also removed the current ‘smart device’ I have hooked up for electric, as I knew this would be redundant.  It was this that triggered some discussion with the Engineer, who asked if I actually used the old device?  I don’t really, as it’s a pain to setup with the new tariffs when switching providers, and I commented that this would all be seamless with the new Smart Meters, at which point he said no!

Why not, I asked?  I assumed when I switched energy supplier the meter would just update for the new provider.  And this is where I discovered that some Smart Meters aren’t actually that smart and will only work for a single provider.  Seriously?  For someone who switches providers almost every year, this seemed like a major flaw.

He went on to explain some of the background, and the push to install the current version 1 Smart Meters (or SMETs1 as they are technically known) to meet Government targets, but it turns out that a SMETs1 meter is only ‘smart’ for the provider you are with when it’s installed.  After switching providers, the meter effectively becomes ‘dumb’ unless you happen to switch back to the original provider when the meter was fitted at some point in the future.  

Although the newer SMETs2 specification has been agreed, and a few of these Smart Meters are being installed and tested, the energy providers have loads of SMETs1 meters to use up and are trying their hardest to meet the targets whilst getting rid of the older, and pretty dumb, SMETs1 meters.

The big unknown question is what happens to those people who’ve already had so-called ‘smart’ SMETs1 meters installed?  Will they have to pay for a 2nd generation meter to be installed?  And should the Government even be making the Energy companies push on with a multi-billion pound project which is using outdated technology, and not really providing people with ‘smart’ meters unless they stay locked in to their current provider, which just about everyone will tell you is the best way to pay more for your energy!

The whole thing is a complete mess, and you might not be surprised to find out the Engineer left very shortly after our discussion without changing any of my meters.  When they can provide one that will continue to work with different providers, I’ll try again, but until that point, I really wouldn’t recommend to anyone that they get a SMETs1 type ‘smart’ meter installed.

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