Nearly three million smart meters are not working properly due to ‘technical issues’ as customers see wild changes in their energy bills
- Have you experienced issues after your smart meter stopped working? Email [email protected]
Nearly three million smart meters in Britain are not working properly as customers see dramatic changes to their energy bills.
A total of 2.7m out of 33m meters are not in smart mode, figures from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) revealed.
One woman had £900 taken from her account without warning, while another saw her direct debit plunge from £200 to £2 – forcing her to guess her usage to avoid going into debt.
Smart meters monitor how much gas and electricity a household is consuming and the cost of it in real time.
Usually these readings are sent automatically to energy suppliers, but if the meter loses connection customers are often forced to rely on estimated bills.
Have you experienced issues after your smart meter stopped working? Email [email protected]
A total of 2.7m out of 33m meters are not in smart mode, figures from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) revealed
Bills should be corrected once the supplier has received manual readings, but some customers have paid too much and struggled to get the money back.
Others have not paid enough and found themselves in debt.
Paula McCracken, from East Yorkshire, said her smart meter had never worked properly and she was overcharged despite taking regular manual readings.
‘I went to buy some food shopping and my card was declined and I was like ”what on earth’s going on?” I just broke down into tears,’ she told the BBC.
How to check your smart meter is working
Smart mode means your meter should automatically send readings to your supplier. If it’s not working in smart mode, you’ll need to send regular meter readings yourself.
Citizens’ Advice has an online tool that shows you how to ensure your meter is working properly.
The 48-year-old said EDF Energy took more than £900 from her account twice with no warning, leaving her with a ‘my £500 overdraft fully taken’.
She said she was refunded on both occasions but not straight away.
‘If I had no family and friends around me to lend me a bit of money for shopping and things, I would have been completely penniless with two children for a week,’ said said.
EDF Energy apologised and admitted it ‘fell short’.
A spokesman said: ‘Having taken actions to diagnose and resolve the issue remotely, which were unfortunately unsuccessful, we set up an appointment to reattempt commissioning but could still not receive reads due to further technical issues on site that could not be resolved.’
Sharlene Peppard, 42, from Doncaster, has 11 children and used her smarter meters to budget.
After 18 months she was told by EDF that the meters were not compatible with each other.
‘I went to the ombudsman who contacted the engineer. I was told the government had set a date for December 2025 to fix the problem and I’d have to wait until then,’ she said.
Mrs Peppard said EDF estimated her bills to be £2 a month.
She added: ‘I’d be in thousands of pounds worth of debt if I believed that. So I’m manually logging in to make the extra £200 payment each month.’
One woman had £900 taken from her account without warning, while another saw her direct debit plunge from £200 to £2 – forcing her to guess her usage to avoid going into debt
EDF Energy said: ‘In 2021, the meter stopped communicating due to a technical error. Since then, we’ve been in contact with Mrs Peppard to book multiple appointments to remedy the issue which have unfortunately not yet been successful.
‘We’ve spoken to Mrs Peppard again to apologise for the inconvenience this has caused her and have scheduled a new appointment for early December to carry out another repair solution.
‘We will also be applying a goodwill payment to the customer’s account to acknowledge the time it’s taken to remedy the issue.’
READ MORE – Can YOU getting a smart meter really stop Britain relying on imported gas?
Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, said: ‘A small proportion of smart meters have lost full functionality and although this means they still operate as traditional meters, allowing customers to submit manual readings manually, suppliers still have a duty to replace these with a functioning smart meter when necessary.
‘There can be a range of reasons for any problems – and sometimes the issue is with the in-home display unit rather than the meter itself.
‘In some cases, it’s possible to rectify the issue with a remote update or a reset of the in-home display which the customer can perform themselves.’
DESNZ said: ‘The overwhelming majority of smart meters are modernising energy for millions of consumers and providing households with near-real time information, which they are using to manage their energy use and save money on their bills.
‘We understand a small proportion are suffering from technical issues and are working with Ofgem, energy suppliers and data experts to solve these issues.’
Last month it emerged that six of the country’s largest energy suppliers will pay £10.8m in penalties for failing to meet targets to install smart meters.
Claire Coutinho is the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. She is seen outside No 10 late last month
Energy regulator Ofgem has ordered British Gas, Bulb, OVO, E.On, Scottish Power and SSE to cough up.
All six missed their targets for 2022, which was the first time suppliers had to meet a target. The firms should have installed a total of 1.3m more smart meters than they did.
READ MORE – Energy firms pay out £11m after not fitting enough smart meters
British Gas, which is owned by behemoth Centrica, will be forced to pay the most with a bill of £3.4m.
Ovo must pay the next biggest sum of £2.4m, followed by Bulb, which was saved from administration by Octopus last year, with £1.8m.
Ofgem said the money will go into a fund that mostly helps Brits in vulnerable situations most at risk from cold homes and high energy bills.
There will not be a further probe into why the energy firms missed the targets.
At the start of 2022, the government introduced annual minimum goals for introducing smart meters.
The targets came as part of a wider bid to reduce energy usage and help consumers save money amid historically high bills.
More than 33m smart meters had been installed in homes and small businesses across the country, as of June 2023, the energy watchdog said. This makes up 58pc of all meters in the UK.
Cathryn Scott, director of enforcement and emerging issues at Ofgem said: ‘The installation of smart meters is a vital step in the modernisation of our energy system and the path to net zero by 2050.
‘Smart meters give customers better information about their energy usage helping them budget and control their costs.’
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