Upgrading old electricity meter to a smart one
We have an old electricity meter which I think must be around 20+ years old. Before the pandemic the energy company used to read it from time to time, and we'd enter readings online in between - or they'd produce an estimated bill. During, and since the pandemic lockdown, we’ve been entering regular readings onto Scottish Power’s online portal ourselves. No-one has been to read the meter for at least three years.
When we checked our usage recently, we realised that the reading one of the dials on the meter hadn't changed for at least a year. I called Scottish Power and told them about this before Christmas. They hadn't noticed it either, but said it's a sign that the old meter is on its last legs and needs replacing. They have offered us a new smart meter in its stead and given us a date to install it.
The dial that is currently still working seems to be recording usage at the night rate. The day rate dial seems to be the one that's static. Although the customer service guy at Scottish Power thought it might have been the other way round.
In any case, the number of units that the dial is increasing by, does seem to match our usage in terms of how many units it costs to run an oven, etc. We've tracked our usage after cooking, using the washing machine, etc, for example.
The customer service guy at Scottish Power said that if we had underpaid because of the faulty meter, they wouldn't come after us for any money, because I would be quite within my rights to ask them to prove it, which they wouldn’t be able to do. He added that a faulty meter was their responsibility anyway. He said I could request them to produce an estimated bill to take account of the faulty dial over the past year, but that may or may not work in my favour.
He said the best thing to do was to replace the meter and have a smart meter installed. We’re worried though because of all the bad press they have had, and the problems people have experienced. We don’t want to suddenly have much higher bills if they provide false readings. The guy at Scottish Power said many of those problems were because the meters had problems connecting with the energy company’s IT systems (wifi/broadband issue??). And we do live in a rural area. He said that I would still be able to take manual readings myself and enter them onto their online portal. I’m not sure if that’s true or not as I’ve never had a smart meter before.
What does everyone think? Should we go ahead and let them install a smart meter or can we ask for a standard meter to replace our current one instead? Or should we move to another provider?
Many thanks for any advice!
PS: After the extremely high energy bills that everyone endured over the last couple of years, Scottish Power did suddenly drop our monthly direct debit to a much, much lower rate in the autumn, although they now want to put that up by much more than 5% later this month – even though we’re having the smart meter installed before then. You would have thought they would have waited, as a smart meter would presumably give them a far more accurate reading on which to base a direct debit payment. However, I suspect that’s two parts of the business not talking to each other… We are still in credit by around £175.
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