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Four million smart meters in the UK are faulty

Four million smart meters in the UK are faulty
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Over four million smart meters are faulty in the UK, with families left racking up excessive bills, Government data finds.

There were 4.31 million meters not operating in ‘smart mode’ from June last year, which dropped to 3.98 million by the end of last year, according to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

Originally, it was believed to impact 2.7 million out of the 34.8 million installed in UK homes, but that figure in June was incorrect, due to mistakes made by some suppliers of the device.

Smart meters are designed to give live readings of how much gas or electricity homes are using through a remote connection to energy suppliers. This means customers no longer have to use estimates when adding up their bills.

The mode can be deactivated when you switch suppliers currently unable to operate the meter in smart mode or if meters are unable to communicate through the wide area network at the point of reporting.

However, when the function is not working, a ‘traditional mode’ is activated, which goes back to the previous method of receiving estimated bills. This leaves families open to paying either too much or not enough to their supplier.

Government is ‘concerned’ over data errors

A DESNZ spokesperson said: “Smart meters are helping consumers manage their energy use and save money while driving the transition to a smarter and more flexible energy system.

“The vast majority of smart meters are working correctly. However, we are concerned that reporting errors by a minority of suppliers have uncovered more meters not operating in smart mode than previously thought.”

The minister for energy efficiency and green finance, Lord Callanan has written to Ofgem and asked for “urgent” action so suppliers are held to account if they are not supporting customers with issues as they should be.

‘Underperformance’ criticised by minister

In Lord Callanan’s letter to the energy regulator, he told them the “scale of some suppliers’ underperformance” was “deeply concerning.”

The minister wrote: “Consumers must be able to rely on receiving the full benefits of smart meters in their homes and small businesses consistently.”

Callanan added: “I welcome Ofgem taking a more active role as the energy market regulator to help drive faster progress.”

The next smart meter performance results will be published on 30 May.

If you experience a loss of smart services, the Government says you should contact your energy supplier, who can help with dealing with your specific circumstances.