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A smart meter could help you and the person you care for

Carers UK is working with Smart Energy GB to help carers learn more about smart meters. The information below explains how smart meters could help you and the person you care for.

Smart meters are the next generation of gas and electricity meters. They record how much electricity or gas you use, just like your existing meters. But with a smart meter, the readings are sent directly and securely to your energy supplier. So, there’s no need for you – or the person you care for – to take a reading of the meter.

Here are four reasons you may wish to consider one:


1. Get accurate bills, based on how much energy is used

Many of us are worried about higher energy bills at the moment. And when you’re caring for someone, there may be several bills to think about.

With a smart meter, you can receive accurate bills based on the energy that has been used – not an estimate. This means that you will only need to pay for the energy that is used and you’ll have a better idea of the bills you are likely to receive.


2. Know how much the energy bills should be

Smart meters record how much gas and electricity you use, just like your existing meter. They come with an in-home display which is sometimes called an IHD. It  shows how much energy the person you care for is using, in near real time, and how much in pounds and pence. You can check how much they’ve used today, this week or this month.

That means you know how much your energy bills should be, which could take some of the guesswork out of balancing the budget. 

The in-home display allows you to see what you’re spending as you go about your day. We have ours in the kitchen so it’s quite visible. I’m the one at home who’s always switching the lights off and turning devices off around the house; things like that can really help.”

- Joe, carer for his mother-in-law

Some energy suppliers also offer an accessible version of the in-home display, with features that may help you or the person you care for. For example, they have larger buttons and can read information out loud. To find out more about Accessible In Home Displays, please visit the Smart Energy GB website


3. Spot when you could turn the heating up – or turn the TV off

Smart meters can help households save energy, but it’s not automatic. Many carers find the in-home display useful. The in-home display allows you and the person you support to have more information about their energy use.

For example, the information on the in-home display could help you, or the person you care for, decide when to turn the heating up, to make sure they stay warm. Or it could help you spot when something has been left on accidentally – so you can make sure the person you support isn’t using energy by mistake.

It helps me to have the peace of mind that we’re tracking energy costs and hopefully they don’t get out of control. The in-home display allows you to see what you’re spending as you go about your day.”

- Joe, carer for his mother-in-law

Joe holding smart meter display


4. Automatic meter readings

With a smart meter, the readings are sent safely and securely to your energy supplier. That means when bills come, they’re based on the energy you’ve used, not an estimate. As well as being more accurate, this can help save time.


How smart meters work

  1. The smart meter records energy use, as they use it
  2. The in-home display shows how much energy the person you care for has used, and what they’ve spent
  3. The smart meter automatically sends readings to their energy supplier. It’s secure, and no other information is sent
  4. They get a bill, based on the amount of gas and electricity they used.

Smart meters and the in-home display aren’t connected to the internet. So there’s no need to have internet access to get one.

The only information that gets sent to energy suppliers is how much energy is being used and when. And the only people who can see how much energy is being used are you (if you have permission), the person you care for and their energy supplier.


Getting a smart meter installed

Smart meters are installed by gas and electricity suppliers. They would replace your old energy meters  safely and securely,  without charging anything extra.

To start the process, contact your energy supplier to arrange a time and date for the smart meter to be installed. Your supplier will be able to tell if you and the person you care for can have one and how soon it can be installed. As a carer, you can normally book the appointment for the person you support, but the supplier may ask some security questions.

The energy supplier can tell you if the person you care for can have a smart meter. They can also tell you how soon it can be installed.


Smart meters for renters

If you or the person you look after pay for the gas or electricity in your rented property, you can choose to have a smart meter as the account holder. We recommend you tell your landlord before you get one.

That’s because there may be rules in your tenancy agreement about how energy is supplied to the property, including the type of meter that can be installed.

If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to change the meter at your property, they should not unreasonably prevent it.


Good to know

  • Someone will need to be at home when the smart meters are installed.
  • If the gas and electricity meters are being replaced at the same time, it will take around two hours. If it’s just one meter, it could be quicker.
  • The supplier should also check if the customer – the person you care for – has any specific needs, like needing a carer to be there.
  • The energy supply will be turned off for a short time while the smart meter is being installed. If the person you care for needs energy to help them with a health condition, please let the energy supplier know when you arrange the appointment.
  • When you set up an installation appointment, you can agree a password with the supplier. The person installing the meter should then say that password before you – or the person you support – lets them into the house.

To find out more about the benefits of installing a smart meter, read this leaflet from Smart Energy GB.

This leaflet is also available to download in the following languages:


Support with energy issues

If you need to make decisions for the person you care for and pay bills for them, it may help for you to be a named third party on their account. Contact their energy supplier to find out what you need to do and see our carers' tips for managing services and accounts on behalf of someone else.


Here's what to do next

  • You could search online 'Get a smart meter today', ensuring any recommended company is a trustworthy supplier. Or get in touch with the energy supplier of the person you care for, with their permission, and ask if they can get one. This online tool offers an easy way to contact the supplier
  • To find some energy suppliers’ freephone and textphone numbers as an alternative method to get in touch, visit the additional support to contact your energy supplier.


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