Want to switch to a cheap energy tariff? Here’s why you might HAVE to get a smart meter first


A number of energy tariffs have been launched that are only available to households who agree to have a smart meter fitted.

These include some of the cheapest on the market, such as one from Ebico for an average price of £850 per year and another from Lumo Energy for £946.

This is significantly cheaper than the average annual bill from a big six provider for a standard variable tariff which is £1,196 – but they’re only available to those who agree to have a new smart meter fitted.

Some of the cheapest energy tariffs are only available to those with a smart meter

Some of the cheapest energy tariffs are only available to those with a smart meter

Some of the cheapest energy tariffs are only available to those with a smart meter

Energy firms have been given a deadline of 2020 by which time they must have offered all eligible customers the chance to have a smart meter fitted.

In order to meet this target, some providers are offering competitive new tariffs to those consumers who switch suppliers and agree to have a smart meter installed.

While most of the cheapest smart-meter only tariffs are from small suppliers, such as Ebico, Utilita, Boost and Lumo Energy, a number of big six providers are offering them now as well.

The cheapest from a big six supplier comes from Eon and it’s the ‘Eon Smart Saver 1 Year v5 Paperless’ tariff which costs an average of £1,108. British Gas also has a tariff, the ‘Everything Online August 2019’, prices at an average of £1,134.

Yet many people are still unsure about getting a smart meter fitted.

These meters are intended to make it easier to understand and pay for energy use. However, there have been some teething problems.

The first wave of smart meters, known as SMETs1, can lose their smart functionality if the consumer switches to a different energy supplier. This means consumers with one may need to have a new meter fitted if they switch providers or go back to giving manual readings.

The energy tariffs available for those installing a smart meter 
Provider Tariff  Average cost   
Ebico Ebico Night-Owl v2 (for Economy 7 only) £847.56   
USIO  Smart Green 0.6  £926.42   
Lumo Energy  App Only Fixed v9  £946.00   
Solarplicity  Solarplicity’s SMART Fixed 2  £951.93   
Fix & Reward Smart April 18  £1,052.36   
Utilita  Smart Energy  £1,067.71   
Lumo Energy  App Only Variable  £1,076.54   
Nabuh Energy  Nabuh Energy Mel Tariff (12 month fixed)  £1,078.14   
Boost  Smart Pay As You Go energy (All Online)  £1,084.85   
Boost  Smart Pay As You Go energy  £1,084.85   
E.ON  E.ON Smart Saver 1 Year v5 Paperless  £1,108.43   
E.ON  E.ON Smart Saver 1 Year v5 Paper Billing  £1,108.43   
British Gas  Everything Online Aug 2019  £1,124.57   
British Gas  Everything Online Green Aug 2019  £1,134.79   
SSE Scottish Hydro  SSE Smart 1 Year Fixed  £1,172.64   
SSE Southern Electric  SSE Smart 1 Year Fixed  £1,172.64   
SSE Swalec  SSE Smart 1 Year Fixed  £1,172.64   
SSE  SSE Smart 1 Year Fixed  £1,172.64   
Source: Energyhelpline, 23/07/18, average national price based on 12000 kWh gas and 3100 kWh electricity

This issue is currently being worked on and the next set of meters, known as SMETs2, will be launched when the problem has been fixed yet there is no date yet for this to happen.

Many consumers are also wary about having a meter. Three quarters of consumers think if they have a smart meter their bills could rise, they could be hacked by cyber criminals, or there could be a danger to their health, recent research from comparison website uSwitch revealed.

Thirty per cent of UK households also said they have been pressured by their energy provider into having a smart meter fitted into their home. Of those a third said they felt their energy firm gave them no other choice than to have the new device fitted.

Victoria Arrington, spokesperson for Energyhelpline, said: ‘Suppliers have been given ambitious installation targets by the government for smart meters, so some of them are trying to incentivise customers to get them by offering discounts on the condition of agreeing to an installation.

‘However, consumers should be aware that the majority of smart meters being installed at this time are still the older SMETs1 models, which are generally considered inferior to the SMETs2, and may go ‘dumb’ after a switch. 

Big six suppliers offering smart-meter only tariffs including British Gas and SSE

Big six suppliers offering smart-meter only tariffs including British Gas and SSE

Big six suppliers offering smart-meter only tariffs including British Gas and SSE

‘The meters would still be able to provide usage readings, but often not any of the other ‘smart’ functionality. There are talks of potential software patches that may fix this issue, however.

‘Also, it’s important to remember that a smart meter itself is not what results in savings – rather it’s getting on a good value tariff, and monitoring usage. Ultimately it’s about the customer being smart, not the meter.

‘That said, those who wish for a smart meter sooner rather than later may as well take advantage of such deals – that way you can get the new meter you desire, and bag a bargain as a bonus. It’s truly easy to pop online and quickly find great energy deals regardless of what kind of meter you have.

‘If you simply want to get a bargain tariff and wait for the SMETs2 models to arrive, there are fantastic deals out there, including some of the cheapest tariffs on the market.’  

A new report published this week has shone a spotlight at the potential savings of smart meters and revealed that it is now expected they will cut energy bills by just £11 per year.

The cross-party committee warned that the smart meter installation should be urgently reviewed and said consumers would end up picking up the tab for the ‘over time, over budget and mismanaged scheme’.

The report by the British Infrastructure Group of MPs and Lords found that projected savings for customers with a meter had been slashed dramatically.

Tory MP Grant Shapps, who is chairman of the group, said: ‘Over 90 parliamentarians are stepping in to ask ministers to ensure the smart meter roll-out acts in the interests of consumers. Smart meter technology, which promised to help consumers, looks in severe danger of predominantly benefiting electricity suppliers instead.

‘Currently the smart meter roll-out is going to be delivered over time, over budget and with consumers quite literally picking up the tab for supplier mismanagement.’ The report found more than half of the one million customers with a smart meter who annually switch provider are left with a gadget which has lost its smart features.’ 

QUICK MONEY SAVER: CAN YOU CUT YOUR BILLS? 

Energy firms are constantly battling to pinch customers from each other.

Shrewd consumers can take advantage of this by reviewing deals every year to ensure they are on the cheapest deal. Even moving every other year will save you significant amounts.

If you are one of the millions of people who have NEVER switched (i.e. stuck with your original supplier), then you should save a big chunk of cash. A tenth of switchers saved as much as £537 in 2017, according to energyhelpline.

You only need to be interested in the tariff that is going to be cheapest where you live, so do your own postcode comparison in minutes using the tool above – or here – to find the best price.

Read more about other quick tricks to make sure you are getting the best deal on your household bills here



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