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The business energy guide to smart meters

Are you looking to install a smart meter in your business premises? Get all the information you need and help installation go smoothly with our guide. Read on to find out more.

The business energy guide to smart meters

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When switching your business gas or electricity, there’s a chance that you’ll be offered a smart meter with your new contract.

This article explains more about smart meters and help you decide whether it will suit your business’s energy consumption needs.

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What is a smart meter?

A 'smart meter' is a new type of gas and electricity meter that is being rolled out to every domestic household and millions of small business premises across the UK.

Smart meters are being hailed as the new generation in metering technology as they have a number of sophisticated and useful features that older, 'dumb' meters lack, including:

  • Accurate, real-time usage data, available to both the energy customer and supplier.
  • More accurate billing, because customers are only ever charged for the energy they've used. Inaccurate and estimated bills should become a thing of the past.
  • Enabling customers to review their energy usage and identify ways to reduce it.
  • Giving customers the opportunity to sell any excess energy they generate back to the grid.

How do smart meters work?

There are three components that make up a business’s smart meter set up. These are:

  • A smart meter (one for gas and one for electricity as necessary)
  • A smart energy monitor
  • A ommunications hub.

The smart meter will take an accurate reading of a business’ energy usage every day. The communications hub will automatically send this data to your energy supplier and your smart energy monitor using wireless technology.

You can then view in near real-time how much energy you have used - and your supplier can provide you with more accurate bills.

How do I get a smart meter installed?

If you’re interested in having a smart meter installed on your business premises, it’s important to follow the steps outlined below:

    • Step 1 – Consult your business energy supplier

Sometimes, a business premises may not be eligible for a smart meter. This is typically due to poor mobile signal, which means the smart meter will not be able to communicate energy data to the supplier.

    • Step 2 – Organise an appointment date with your supplier
    • Providing your premises is eligible, your supplier will arrange a time for an engineer to visit.
    • Step 3 – Have your business smart meter installed

The engineer will carry out the meter fitting. Installation typically takes about an hour per meter - with gas and electricity requiring separate meters.

It can also help to keep the following information in mind:

  • Your smart meters may need to be installed in the same location as your existing meters on your business premises, so it's a good idea to clear the area prior to the appointment.
  • You may want to change the location of your meters, which can sometimes be done at the same time as the smart meter installation. There may be an additional charge for this.
  • Suppliers require a responsible adult to be present at the installation, so ensure that you or an appropriate member of staff are available.

Business smart meter FAQ

Smart meters can be a great way to control and monitor your energy costs more closely than ever. Here are some of the most common questions asked around their use.

If your question isn’t answered below, you can reach out to us on Twitter @MakeItCheaper

Why are smart meters good for small businesses?

The smart meter initiative is being rolled out across Britain because in principle, it’s a good idea. Installing smart meters will give business consumers and energy suppliers unprecedented levels of information about their energy usage and reveal ways to bring that usage down.

The roll-out is a positive move towards more accurate billing, which has the potential to reduce our impact on the environment and bring down the average cost of an energy bill.

Why has the Government enforced smart metering?

Following lengthy consultations with the energy regulator Ofgem, the Government concluded that the rollout of smart meters will achieve the following goals:

  • Support Britain's move to becoming a low carbon economy.
  • Help Britian meet Te challenge of ensuring an affordable, secure and sustainable energy supply.
  • Give consumers information that will help them to reduce their energy usage.
  • Allow energy suppliers to reduce their customer service and meter reading costs.

What's the plan for the smart meter rollout?

The Government has confirmed that the smart meter rollout to domestic households and smaller, non-domestic sites (which applies to most small businesses with premises) must be completed by the end of 2020. This is an enormous task because there are currently over 2.2 million electricity sites and 1.5 million gas sites for non-domestic consumers in the UK.

Are smart meters free?

Technically, no. While there is no direct, upfront cost to you, smart meters are not free. The installation costs that suppliers incur from installing smart meters are recovered through a slight increase to the price of your energy bills.

Ofgem predict that this cost will only amount to roughly £100 a year, and the money that you’re likely to save due to more accurate billing should cover this cost. By 2020, the cost of smart meters will be entirely paid off, leaving you to benefit from more accurate billing and lower energy costs as a result.

How do I read a smart meter?

Unlike a traditional meter, where you record figures and give a reading to your supplier. With a smart meter this is all done automatically. If you want to see how much energy you’re using, you can do so through your smart energy monitor.

Each model of a smart energy monitor functions slightly differently, so you should consult your user guide for further information.

Do I have to have a smart meter fitted?

It’s not mandatory for businesses to have a smart meter installed. However, the official began in 2017, and suppliers are taking reasonable steps to replace all meters. It’s recommended that you take this opportunity to replace your meter - especially if it’s old, as it could pose a safety risk.

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