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What different types of meter can I get?

If you want to cut your energy bills, it helps to know how much gas and electricity you’re using. Prepayment and smart meters can help you keep track of how much energy you use.

Prepayment meters

Prepayment meters let you pay as you go for your gas or electricity. You can top up your meter using a key or card, which you can add money to at local shops.

Prepayment meters have some benefits. They can:

  • help you budget more effectively, as you decide when to top up and by how much
  • be used to pay off money owed to your energy company.

In addition, a temporary cap has been brought in to limit the prices paid by prepayment customers. This means many prepayment tariffs will be cheaper than in the past.

However, there are downsides to prepayment meters, such as:

  • prepayment deals may still be more expensive than the best deals for standard meters
  • the nearest place you can top up may not be close to your home
  • if you don’t have money to add, there won’t be any gas or electricity.

If you want a prepayment meter, contact your supplier to find out how. They may charge around £50 to remove the current meter and install a new one. Some suppliers have their own conditions – for example, that you have a current account or have been debt-free for at least three months.

If you're a tenant, see what your agreement says about making changes to your home.

Smart meters

Smart meters are a new type of energy meter being offered to every household in England, Wales and Scotland. You don’t have to pay to have a smart meter installed.

Smart meters record exactly how much gas or electricity you use and automatically send regular readings to your energy company. This means you won’t have to take meter readings any more and should get accurate bills (although it’s still a good idea to check that your bills match the amount of energy you’ve used).

Smart meters come with a small, easy-to-use device (known as an in-home display unit), which sits in your home and allows you to see how much energy you’re using in kilowatt hours (kWh) and how much it’s costing you in pounds and pence.

Every home will be offered a smart meter by 2020. When you can get one installed depends on your supplier’s plans, where you live and what type of meter you have. If you’re interested in getting a smart meter, check with your supplier about what would happen if you wanted to switch to a different deal.

To find out more contact your energy supplier or visit the Smart Energy GB website.

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Last updated: Feb 03 2022

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