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Energy warning: Smart meter failures and ‘additional £374’ to bills render them useless

This Morning: Martin Lewis helps caller with smart meter

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Energy regulator Ofgem have announced that changes will be made to smart meters and their function in that every 30 minutes, a smart meter will send energy suppliers personalised updates on energy usage per household. These changes may lead to “time of use” tariffs, and could cause bills to skyrocket.

Smart meters currently send out automatic readings once a month unless they have opted in for more automatic readings.

All households will be offered smart meters by the end of 2025 in a move that is supposed to make households more eco-friendly as they can track their energy usage more closely.

The changes are unpopular as they enable energy companies to raise prices during peak times of the day, though energy bosses have stated it will be optional.

While the changes are supposed to encourage families to alter their habits, for those who are unable to have more flexibility, their energy usage will end up paying a lot more than they do now.

Smart meters are not mandatory and bill payers can refuse to have the devices installed but they must be installed if the old meter is deemed a safety hazard or is not functioning correctly. 

Ofgem announced that “this major system upgrade is a significant milestone on Britain’s path to net zero” and “will enable a more efficient, flexible and greener energy system which will save billions of pounds per year on all consumers.”

Despite the claims that households will save money, according to Simply Switch, the rollout was estimated to cost approximately £11 billion meaning this would have added £374 to the energy bills of all households.

Simply Switch, an impartial energy advisor and price comparison website, warned that this final bill is likely to be higher.

Many of the households who were the first to change to smart meters have complained that their home displays stopped working so they could not see how much energy they were using.

Many were also trapped with their gas and electricity provider after the first model of smart meter was rendered incompatible with the communication system that the smart meter uses to send data to your energy provider.

These incompatible meters are nicknamed ‘dumb’ which is essentially the same as a standard meter with manual readings essential.

Though these issues are being fixed with a national network, it has been revealed that almost one in every five smart meters is rendered ‘dumb’.

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The rollout of these older meters was supposed to finish in March 2019, but it was found that firms continued to install these meters until March 2021.

A considerable amount of the current smart meters will be due for an upgrade by engineers after plans were revealed to wind down the networks the current devices use by 2033.

With these plans it means that the smart meters that have already been rolled out are effectively no different to the old ones.

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