Energy smart meter displays have been watched more than the TV this winter as the cost of living crisis forces families to keep a sharp eye on their gas and electricity usage.
But did you know that your smart meter is probably outside your house and what you are looking at every day in actually your in-home display unit? The in-home display (IHD), also called a smart meter monitor, should show you how much gas and electricity you’re using in near-real time – and how much it’s costing.
And worryingly, although two in five reported problems with smart meters actually relate to the IDH not working, you may well have to foot the bill for a repair or replacement yourself if you need one.
Research by consumer group Which? found that customers experiencing issues such as the monitors not updating with the latest tariff information or losing connection with the smart meter often struggle to get their energy supplier to fix the problem.
If your monitor isn’t working, it doesn’t affect your smart meters or energy supply. You can do without an IHD, but as one of the main benefits is being able to see your real-time gas and electricity use, lots of families have come to rely on them to keep tabs on their spending. If you prepay for your energy, the smart meter monitor should also show how much credit you have.
If your smart meter monitor was provided by your energy firm less than 12 months ago and it’s broken, or no longer working as it should be, your energy provider should fix any faults and repair or replace it as needed free of charge, according to rules set by energy regulator Ofgem, assuming you haven’t broken it by dropping it for instance.
However after that, energy firms are allowed to charge you for a replacement monitor and it’s up to them to set their price for it. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero told Which? that it is encouraging all energy suppliers to go beyond the minimum 12-month standard, but the consumer group’s research found that the policies were different depending on who your energy supplier was.
Of the six biggest UK energy suppliers, Scottish Power, Ovo and Octopus all told Which? they will provide a replacement monitor after 12 months free of charge, assuming it wasn’t broken by you. However, EON and EDF will only supply free replacement monitors for vulnerable customers, with everyone else being charged £49.99 + delivery. British Gas said is trialling a scheme where customers can purchase new smart meter monitors which is currently free of charge, with no decision yet made on pricing.
Scottish Power said: “Faults with in-home displays are rare. Loss of connectivity, however, is not uncommon and is typically resolved by signalling the smart metering system, something we do irrespective of the age of the IHD. We are able to verify remotely if a smart meter is functioning correctly and if so, we work to reconnect an in-home display to avoid the need to replace a device which is capable of functioning correctly.”
What to do if your smart meter monitor isn’t working
If the screen on your smart meter monitor has gone blank, check whether it’s connected to a power supply as once unplugged, monitors tend to have only a few hours’ battery life. Try putting new batteries in your monitor – if that brings your monitor back to life, then the problem is with the power cable.
If your monitor turns on but isn’t displaying your energy use, it’s probably struggling to connect to the smart meters, so:
- Plug the monitor in closer to your electricity meter as some displays have an indicator showing how strong the signal is from your smart meter.
- Wait seven days after you first spot that your energy use isn’t appearing – according to British Gas, most monitors restart automatically within a week.
If your display still isn’t working correctly, or is showing incorrect figures, then you need to contact your energy provider.
How to keep an eye on your energy use without a smart meter monitor
An IHD is an add-on to your smart meter, which functions exactly the same without one. If your monitor isn’t working, it doesn’t affect your smart meters or energy supply. You won’t be cut off, and usually you won’t need a new smart meter.
If you want to keep an eye on how much you’re spending: your online energy account will usually have information, and many firms provide an app so you can see your usage, although usually not in real time.
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