Must I get a smart meter in order to get the cheapest energy deal?

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Those looking to change to a cheaper energy tariff are told they must have a smart meter fitted


My energy deal is about to expire so I have started searching for different tariffs online with my provider Eon.

However, to get any of the cheapest deals, it says I will have to have a smart meter installed.

I live on my own and don’t earn a great wage – I need to be on the cheapest deal possible, but I don’t want a smart meter.

I feel like I am being bullied into getting one – is there any way I can avoid getting one or do I just have to install one to get a cheaper price on my energy bills?

Those looking to change to a cheaper energy tariff are told they must have a smart meter fitted

Those looking to change to a cheaper energy tariff are told they must have a smart meter fitted

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: We have seen an increasing trend of customers being coerced into having smart meters installed to be able to access the cheapest energy tariffs.

We are encouraged to switch energy suppliers to save money – but it appears that many major energy suppliers are saving the best deals for those who agree to have a smart meter installed.

On Eon’s website, the Big Six supplier isn’t advertising a single fixed tariff that customers can switch to without having a smart meter installed. 

Many customers are accusing energy companies of using smart meters as a form of blackmail, as without agreeing to the energy company’s terms, you won’t be able to get the best deal.

Smart Energy GB confirmed that energy suppliers are permitted to offer lower tariffs and can insist on smart meters as a condition. 

It claimed the supposed reduced rates within smart meter tariffs reflect the lower cost to the supplier of providing services, in the same way that suppliers previously offered discounts to those receiving e-bills rather than paper bills.

It said because of this there are less costs involved, for example no processing meter readings or dealing with billing enquiries, these savings are being passed onto the consumer.

Energy firms are allowed to insist on smart meter installation but is it a form of blackmail?

Energy firms are allowed to insist on smart meter installation but is it a form of blackmail?

Energy firms are allowed to insist on smart meter installation but is it a form of blackmail?

Energy companies are likely to be pushing the installations as the Government set a target that every UK household and small business should have one by 2020. 

However, they are currently not on track to meet that target.

This means it is likely energy companies have taken further steps to ensure that the Government can get closer to its aim.   

It is not just major energy suppliers who are proposing these tariffs, many of the smaller suppliers have also released a number of tariffs whereby customers have to have a meter fitted. 

A spokesperson for Eon replies: Smart meters are of significant benefit to customers, helping to end estimated bills and enabling a smarter connected home for the future. 

While the obligation to install smart meters is mandated, we want all customers to benefit from the opportunity to better control their energy use and spend by easily seeing how much energy they’re using and what it costs with a helpful smart in-home energy display. 

Any customer who signs up to a new fixed tariff will be invited to agree to have a smart meter fitted where possible. 

SMART METER TARIFFS COMPARED TO NON-SMART METER TARIFFS
Supplier Smart meter
information
Plan Type End date Green Exit fee Average price
Lumo A smart meter discount of £6.25 per month per fuel is included in the quoted price. If the smart meter is offered but not installed within the first six months of the contract, Lumo may remove the discount for the remainder of the contract. App Only Fixed v17 Fixed 12 months N £60 £988
First Utility Requires smart meter installation before 31st July 2019; failure to install may result in moving on to First Utility’s standard variable tariff and incurring an exit fee. Fixed April 2020 plus Smart Fixed 30/04/2020 N £100 £1,008
First Utility Fixed April 2020 Fixed 30/04/2020 N £60 £1,097
British Gas By signing up to this tariff you agree to book a smart meter installation within 3 months. If you do not book this appointment, you will be offered a different tariff with different rates. HomeEnergy Plus Boiler Cover Feb 2020 Fixed 29/02/2020 N £60 £1,073
British Gas Standard    Variable N £ – £1,135
ScottishPower Switching to this tariff automatically registers your interest for a smart meter from ScottishPower. This means they may contact you to discuss installing a smart meter. However, you may stay on this tariff if ScottishPower aren’t able to fit a meter. Super Saver April 2020 B4 Fixed 30/04/2020 N £60 £1,030
ScottishPower Standard Variable N £ – £1,137
npower To be eligible for this tariff, you must already have a smart meter installed or agree to have one installed within four months of your supply live date (or within four months of becoming eligible to receive one). Go Smart Exclusive Fix April 2020 v4 Fixed 30/04/2020 N £60 £1,039
npower Price Fix April 2020 Fixed 30/04/2020 N £60 £1,127
EDF Energy Easy Online Exclusive Mar20 Fixed 31/03/2020 N £70 £1,025
EDF Energy By switching to this tariff, you are agreeing to have EDF Energy install a smart meter in your property when they become available in your area. Easy Online Mar20 Fixed 31/03/2020 N £60 £1,113
E.ON By switching to this tariff you are agreeing to be contacted by E.ON and where eligible have a smart meter installed for each fuel E.ON supply. However, you may stay on this tariff if E.ON arent able to fit a smart meter. Fix Online v9 Fixed 12 months N £60 £1,091
E.ON E.ON Energy Plan Variable N £ – £1,254
Utilita Free Smart Meter available Smart Energy Variable N £ – £1,134
SSE Switching to this tariff automatically registers your interest for a smart meter from SSE. This means the supplier may contact you to discuss installing a smart meter when your household becomes eligible. SSE 1 Year Fixed v15 Fixed 12 months N £50 £1,136
SSE Standard Variable N £ – £1,137
Source: uSwitch (prices correct as of 18 February 2019)           

Robert Cheesewright, director of corporate affairs at Smart Energy GB, replies: With some of the cheapest deals around only available to those with smart meters it makes perfect sense to contact your energy supplier today about your own installation.

Smart meters deliver savings to energy suppliers and it’s pleasing to see those savings being passed onto consumers.

Rik Smith, energy expert at comparison website uSwitch, replies: Some suppliers do offer cheap tariffs if you agree to take a smart meter. 

This is because energy companies – particularly the larger suppliers – are under pressure to meet targets set by the Government to have offered a smart meter to every household before the end of next year.

It’s worth being aware that these smart tariffs rarely appear in the best buy tables, but they’re not necessarily the most expensive deals on the market either.

Many smart tariffs are only available if you agree when you sign up to get a smart meter installed within a certain time period. 

If you later decline to have the meter installed, you may lose a discount applied to the tariff or be moved to a more expensive tariff. 

Some suppliers will make allowances however, if they’ve tried to install the meter but the technology won’t work in the area you live in – which can sometimes happen.

The other question you will need to ask yourself is if you want a smart meter. No one should feel pressured into taking one. 

There have been reports of energy customers being told they’re a legal requirement – which isn’t true; that existing meters will stop working – which is also untrue; and of suppliers booking installations without the permission of the people who live at a property; which again is not what we want to see when suppliers are offering their customers a smart meter.

Also, consider whether you’re likely to switch supplier to a cheaper deal. 

One of the main frustrations people have had about smart meters is the risk of them going dumb if you change energy company. 

This is a specific issue to the first generation of smart meters, suppliers are now starting to install second generation, SMETS2, meters that will allow people to switch and keep their full smart meter functionality.

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: This is Money has previously reported on a number of issues that readers have had with smart meters, including not being able to get one removed and getting harassed by their energy company to get one installed. 

This latest tactic could have a detrimental effect on a number of consumers looking to get on cheaper tariffs as they will have no choice but to have a meter fitted – or face substantially higher bills.  



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