With all of us facing bigger bills for our heating this winter, the first Smart Meter Awareness Week couldn't have come at a better time. Having a smart meter installed in your home won’t of course automatically cut your energy bills – but it can help you save money by showing you how much power you are using when you switch on particular appliances, helping you cut down your energy consumption. Or at least that's the idea behind them. Whether or not you take notice, is up to you. Smart meters also mean the end of meter readings, as the meter automatically sends information back to your utility provider.
All good news – so why do we need to raise awareness of the benefits of meters? Well, according to the English Housing Survey it’s the private rented sector that is behind the curve on meter uptake, with only 21% of private renters saying they have a meter installed. This is because there is clearly some confusion out there about who is responsible for installing said meters.
According to recent research by Smart Energy GB, tenants in the private rental sector are more likely to want smart meters when compared to other groups, but are less likely to have them installed in their homes.
Apparently, 40% of landlords think it is their responsibility to install a smart meter and 39% believe it is the tenant’s responsibility. And letting agents are equally unsure, with 38% assuming that installing a meter is up to the landlord and 51% believing it is up to the tenant.
In fact, despite some tenancy agreements preventing tenants from installing a meter themselves, Ofgem confirms that all bill payers have the right to install a smart meter and that their landlord shouldn’t unreasonably prevent it. So the aim of this week is to help bust a few myths and encourage better take-up.
Here are a couple of things that might help.
· Citizens Advice has a smart meter checking tool that lets you check what smart meter you have and whether it is working effectively.
· Smart Energy GB now has a dedicated page on their website for Smart Meter Awareness Week with information about smart meters for the private rented sector, including resources for private landlords, letting agents and tenants.
Safeagent also told the press this week that the meters are good news for tenants on lower incomes because, if they have a prepay meter, installing a smart meter could save them money by helping them not have to step up to a more expensive tariff. Also, they say, by using smart meters, customers who fall behind on their payments can be switched from credit to prepayment mode without the cost of a new meter being added to their debt.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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