Whether you’re renting a property in a group, with a partner, or by yourself, gas and electricity bills are a big part of a household’s monthly outgoings – and without knowing how much energy you’re using or what it’s costing, they can be a big worry too! Luckily smart gas and electricity meters are being rolled out to everyone across Great Britain, so renters will be better equipped to keep track of energy use, budget for utility bills, and find new ways to save both energy and money.
Q&A About Smart Meters
Lucy Maggs from Smart Energy GB, the voice of the smart meter rollout, tells us more in this handy guide about smart meters.
1. What is a smart meter?
Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They send automatic updates of how much energy you’re using to your energy supplier, meaning accurate bills and no more estimates or manual meter readings. Smart meters will help solve the problem of inherited bills from previous tenants, and make it easier to settle your account if you decide to move house. The accompanying in-home display will also show you exactly how much energy you’re using and what it’s costing you in pounds and pence.
2. Are smart meters relevant to people who rent their property?
Definitely! The new technology is being rolled out to every home across Great Britain at no extra cost, and that includes all types of rented accommodation. If you pay the gas and electricity bills, you can ask your supplier to fit a smart meter in your home, even if you’re only planning to stay for a short period of time.
3. Will it cost me anything to get one?
There is no additional charge for a smart meter or for the in-home display that comes with it and, if you move house, you just leave the new technology behind for the next tenants to benefit from. The costs will be spread across everyone’s bills, just as the cost of running and maintaining traditional meters is. You won’t have an extra charge on your bill when you upgrade to a smart meter.
4. Do I need to ask my landlord’s permission to have a smart meter?
If you pay the bills and they’re addressed to you, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to get smart meters fitted. If your gas and electricity is included in your rent and your landlord receives the bills, your landlord will need to organise the installation. It is still a good idea to get a smart meter installed, as it will give you and your landlord greater visibility around your gas and electricity use.
5. What are the benefits of having a smart meter for renters?
Smart meters will help you and your housemates (if you have them) to stay in control of your gas and electricity, saving you energy and money, and helping you to budget for your utility bills.
- You won’t need to remember to take meter readings and submit them to your supplier – your smart meter will do that for you
- You won’t have to worry about estimated bills landing on your doormat. Your bills will be accurate, you’ll know what to expect, and you’ll only pay for gas and electricity you’ve actually used
- You’ll have near real time information in pounds and pence, showing you what you are spending on gas and electricity, so you can budget accordingly
- You and your housemates (if you have them) will be able to identify areas where you’re wasting energy – no more secret heaters!
- You’ll see instant changes in pounds and pence when you make proactive energy-saving changes
- You’ll have the information you need to decide whether you are getting the best deal, or if you should switch to a different tariff or supplier
- If your bills are included in your rent, having a smart meter will help you to keep track of how much gas and electricity you’re using during your contract. If your landlord has set a limit, you won’t get caught out
6. What if I have a prepayment meter?
If your home has a prepayment meter, you will still be offered the opportunity to upgrade. In fact, smart meters can function in direct debit or prepayment mode, so you can choose how you want to pay for your energy. Your smart meter will come with an in-home display, so you won’t need to access the meter anymore to top up or see how much credit you have left. If you choose smart prepay you’ll be able to:
- Conveniently see how much credit you have left on your in-home display
- Top up when and where you want to – online, with an app, on the phone, or via text message
- Top up with cash payments in person, without any need to put a key or card back into a meter. Payments will automatically be added to your account
7. How can a smart meter help me to save money?
Your smart meter will show you how much energy you’re using as you use it, in pounds and pence, so understanding your outgoings and splitting bills with housemates will no longer be a case of guesswork.
You’ll have all the information you need to manage your budget, make energy-saving changes, and bring down your bills. You can also switch easily between smart prepay and credit mode, if you would like to.
Your in-home display is a great tool to help you save – Smart Energy GB’s independent research shows that more than eight in ten people with a smart meter have taken at least one step to reduce their energy use at home.
8. What should I do if I want to get a smart meter?
Only your energy supplier can install your smart meter. Your supplier might have already been in touch about your smart meter upgrade, in which case you can go ahead and book an installation. If you haven’t heard from your supplier, get in touch to discuss your new smart meter. To find out who your energy supplier is, check the contact details on your latest bill.
Contact your energy supplier today about getting your smart meter installed.
A word from The Tenants’ Voice:
Smart meters really take reading, monitoring and pricing gas and electricity to the next level. This is the logical step for every household that uses the electricity or gas. It’s a permanently better solution than every other gas and electricity meter available and comes at no extra cost for the owner or tenant of the property.
Regardless if it’s your or your landlord who pays the bills, everybody benefits from having a smart meter installed in the property. The accurate bills and real-time information about usage in pounds and pence provide clarity and allow you to optimise how you use the property and achieve the best comfort vs price ratio.
For HMO properties, this is essential for better in-house relationships and lack of confusion when splitting the energy charges. HMOs typically will need the landlord’s approval to change the meters as it’s common that the landlord handles the bills and charges is through the rent.
However, even if you don’t need the landlord’s permission, it’s always a good idea to approach them ahead of the installation and have a conversation about it. The Tenants’ Voice believes the only real way to improve renting is when landlords and tenants work together.
For more information about paying the bills in your property, please visit our dedicated guide – Pay the bills
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our Managing your home category.
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