Smart meters are still relatively new in many properties, and so if you move home you might now know what one looks like.
It’s useful to know whether you have a smart meter because that will tell you whether you need to take manual readings yourself or if they’re being sent to your utility supplier automatically.
But how do you know? Is it easy to tell if your meter is a smart meter? Let’s take a look.
How Do I Know If I Have A Smart Meter?
Smart meters are easy to spot because they have a digital display screen, rather than the old mechanical counter. They’re usually white and should look relatively new, since they’ve only been installed within the last 20 years.
You’ll also know if you have a smart meter since you shouldn’t get emails asking you to submit a meter reading, nor should anyone be calling round to your home to take a meter reading with any regularity.
You may still get a visit from someone from your utility company who wants to inspect your meter, but they’re usually carrying out a routine inspection to make sure it’s working correctly and that it hasn’t been tampered with – something that can happen!
It’s important to differentiate between a smart meter and a smart display. A smart meter is a unit that replaces your old meter, and is usually hidden away in a location around your home.
But with the introduction of smart meters came smart displays – small units that you can plug into a power socket in a convenient location in your home. These devices communicate with your smart meter, and then visually show you how much power you are using.
The purpose is to help you identify which appliances are using a lot of electricity, where you might be able to cut down, and so that you can see why you’re being billed the amount that you are.
The smart display is optional, and if you don’t want to have it plugged in then you don’t need to. Some people think that it is the smart meter itself and that by unplugging it you will stop the readings from being sent to your supplier – that’s not true!
The display is just an accessory for the customer’s benefit. If you don’t want to have it switched on, just unplug it and tuck it away in a drawer. You can still usually log into your online account to monitor your energy usage anyway.
Photos of Smart Meters
Here are some photos of smart meters so you can see what they look like:
And here are some photos of smart meter digital displays:
Are Smart Meters Installed Inside Or Outside?
A smart meter will be installed wherever your old meter was installed. This can either be on the outside wall of your property, or inside in a closet, under a staircase, in a utility room, in the basement or, in some rare situations, in the attic.
If you live in an apartment block, then there may be a central location where all the meters are located for each apartment, rather than having each one inside the relevant apartment.
Your building manager should be able to tell you where they are situated if you need to access them, and they should be labeled for each apartment.
If the meter is located outside your property it will be inside a waterproofed box. It may be locked with a key, which should be provided to you when you move into the home.
Do They Remove Old Meters When Installing Smart Meters?
Smart meters will often replace old meters completely, but sometimes are installed as an additional add-on to an older meter. So you may still see the old meter even if you have a smart meter installed.
As long as you can see a unit attached to the meter, or alongside it, that has a digital display then you should have a smart meter. If you’re still not sure, you can check by contacting your utility provider and asking them.
They will be able to tell you if they are receiving your meter readings automatically, and if not then they should be able to arrange getting your meter inspected and a smart meter added if you don’t already have one.
The Bottom Line
A smart meter is pretty easy to spot, once you know where your meter is installed. Older, non-smart meters never used a digital display so as soon as you see that LCD screen then you’ll know your meter is smart.
With a smart meter it’s a lot easier to track how much electricity you’re using at different times of the day, so make sure you take advantage and examine your usage stats on your bills if you want to lower how much you pay. You might be surprised just how much you’re using at different times of the day.