Is it Compulsory to Have a Smart Meter Installed at Your Business?

by | May 31, 2018

What’s on this page?

  1. Is it compulsory to have a smart meter installed?
  2. What is a smart meter?
  3. Do you need internet for a smart meter?
  4. The benefits of having a smart meter
  5. How much does a smart meter cost?
  6. Why wouldn’t a business want a smart meter installed?
  7. Should I get a smart meter for my small business?
  8. How can smart meters help your business?
  9. Innovation on top of innovation
  10. How to get a smart meter installed in 3 simple steps
  11. The smarter way to measure your energy
  12. Update – smart meter installation – June 2020

All the hype around the rollout of this new way of measuring energy consumption has left people wondering… is it compulsory to have a smart meter installed?

Is it compulsory to have a smart meter installed?

New government requirements have commissioned energy companies to install smart meters in business premises and domestic homes by 2019 – but this is only if a smart meter is wanted by the household or business. The government requires that smart meters are offered by energy suppliers to all small businesses and homes, but smart meters are not a legal requirement, therefore it’s not compulsory to have a smart meter installed.

However, having a smart meter at your premises is likely to become the norm in years to come.

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters provide businesses and household with a digital way to measure gas and electricity readings, which are sent directly to energy suppliers. Smart meters serve as a replacement for your existing gas and electricity meters. The difference between a traditional meter and a smart meter is that smart meters send the data they collect to your energy supplier remotely, which means you don’t need to take manual meter readings.

Do you need internet for a smart meter?

No, you don’t need internet for a smart meter. Each smart meter has its own SIM cars and uses a mobile GSM network (don’t worry, not your mobile data). So you don’t need a broadband connection for your smart meter to work.

The benefits of having a smart meter

Whether or not it’s compulsory to have a smart meter installed, there are a number of benefits associated with this digital technology.

  • Because a smart meter takes accurate readings, this means to your energy bills will be more accurate too.
  • You won’t need to take manual energy readings. Once your meter’s SIM card is connected, you won’t need to send meter readings to your supplier, saving time and ensuring the accuracy of your bill.
  • Having accurate energy consumption data on hand allows you to take control of your energy use and improve your energy efficiency and strategic energy management.
  • With the meter’s display feature, you’ll have access to real-time updates, aware of how much energy you’re using and when you’re using it.

Did you know? The Carbon Trust estimates that the average business wastes 20% of the energy it buys.

Smart metering in homes and businesses leads to a smarter market in general, arming consumers with the knowledge to switch suppliers and find the energy contract most suited to their individual needs. In addition, energy suppliers will have more accurate data about the energy ecosystem as a whole, allowing them to better meet energy supply and demands.

Benefits aside, many businesses and households are asking: is it compulsory to have a smart meter installed?

How much does a smart meter cost?

It won’t cost you anything to get a smart meter installed. The cost is incurred by your supplier (at about £100 per household). Your supplier will provide and install your smart meter with no direct cost to you. However, the cost will be covered as part of your energy bill – just like the installation and maintenance of a traditional meter.

Energy prices have recently been reported to be on the rise, and this is in part due to the costs associated with the new technology. The government has dictated that energy companies shall foot the bill for the implementation of smart meters.

If you decide to upgrade to a smart meter, then your energy provider is obligated to install it for you for free and teach you how to use your new smart meter to make your business more energy efficient.

Why wouldn’t a business want a smart meter installed?

Those asking whether it’s compulsory to have a smart meter installed may have some reservations about smart meter rollout…

  • Smart meters can be hacked – your smart meter is required to meet strict Government security standards, but, as with any technology, it’s important to remain vigilant.
  • It will cost more money – although you may see a slight increase in your energy bills to compensate for the rollout of this new technology, there are no upfront costs for smart meter installation.
  • Installing the meter will cause downtime – energy suppliers will generally install meters during working hours, but some are willing to be flexible. The downtime associated with smart meter installation is normally around 20 minutes.
  • Switching suppliers – once you have a smart meter installed by an energy company, you can still switch suppliers at a later stage if you’d like to. The smart meters rolled out are ‘interoperable’, which means that all suppliers will be able to support them.
  • Operate from rented premises – simply get in touch with your landlord to ask about having a smart meter installed.

Should I get a smart meter for my small business?

The government plans that by 2020 every household in the UK will have been given the opportunity to upgrade to a smart meter. As for small business, the government recently dedicated £8.8 million to SMEs across various industries to pioneer new smart meter technology.

Nine companies, including Samsung and Toshiba, have been awarded funding to develop innovative technology for use in industries such as hospitality, retail, and education. The aim is to reduce the energy consumption of SMEs in these industries, which is currently equivalent to that of 4.3 million homes, down to around that of three million homes.

Put simply, the government believes that smart meter technologies can make your business more energy efficient, saving you money, and it is investing cash in order to make the technology even better and more widely used.

How can smart meters help your business?

Smart meters are designed to save your business money by giving you accurate real-time readings on your gas and electricity usage. This is as opposed to energy companies estimating your energy usage, and inaccurately billing you based off of those estimates. This adds up to save your business money in the long run.

British Gas, who have installed millions of smart meters across the country already, have revealed one huge way in which businesses could save huge amounts on their energy bills using smart meters. They said that the data they have collected from their smart meters shows that 46% of all energy used by businesses occurs outside of the traditional business hours of 8am-6pm. Smart meters raise awareness of this kind of energy wastage, allowing you to combat it.

Innovation on top of innovation

Some of the new smart meter technologies the government is investing in can also help your business become even more energy efficient, beyond just raising awareness of how much energy you’re using. One of these new systems being developed is called RAE2. It will analyse the data from your smart meter and is able to perform all kinds of optimisations tailored to your specific business needs, based on your data. It will also be able to compile all of the data into real-time displays.

Currently, businesses that use large amounts of energy per year (more than 3GWh) can choose the type of smart meter that they wish to use. For small businesses, however, there is currently only one choice: SMET2. This is one of the newest types of smart meter available though, capable of analysing which appliances are using the most energy in your business, and when they are doing so…

How to get a smart meter installed in 3 simple steps

  1. Ask your energy supplier or your energy broker about what’s on offer.
  2. Once you or your broker have decided on the appropriate solution, you can arrange a suitable time and date with your energy supplier to have the smart meter installed.
  3. Start taking control of your energy bills!

The smarter way to measure your energy

It is hoped that the widespread adoption of the technology, aside from making people more aware of their energy usage, and therefore more energy-efficient, will lead to a more competitive energy market.

While installing a smart meter currently adds an extra step to the process of switching energy providers, as they are currently locked to whichever company installed it, in the future smart meters will simplify this process.

This will create a fairer, more competitive market for consumers. Your smart meter will be able to provide you with real-time market data on different tariffs, and help you easily switch to whichever tariff is right for your business.

The experts at Smarter Business can complete your smart meter installation effortlessly and cost-effectively, and can also provide energy supply contracts. Your dedicated account manager will walk you through the entire smart meter installation process, offering comprehensive meter solutions and supplying the connections for your gas and electricity.

Contact Smarter Business to help you find the best energy contract for your needs and ensure that your smart meter is installed effortlessly and cost-effectively.

Update – smart meter installation – June 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the number of smart meters installed during Q1 and Q2 of 2020, by 30 June roughly 21.5 million smart and advanced meters were operating in Great British homes and small businesses. 17.4 million of these meters were operating in smart or advanced modes 

The difficulties presented by national lockdowns have hampered the expected rate of installation, but there remains a focus on this essential national infrastructure upgrade – which will help make energy cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.  

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