The smart devices work by sending regular updates about a person’s energy usage to their supplier, so residents can track their consumption and keep their bills down. Experts have warned that the smart devices can enter ‘dumb mode’, when they stop sending the regular readings and have to be checked manually.
Alex Hasty, director at comparethemarket.com, told Express.co.uk: “‘Dumb mode’ is the term used when a smart meter is no longer automatically transmitting meter readings to the supplier.
“Essentially, it is no longer operating in a ‘smart’ way.
“This can be for a number of reasons, including active opt out from a household or an error with the meter.
“If your smart meter goes into dumb mode unprompted, the best thing to do is to get in touch with your supplier in order to resolve the issue.”
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Many households have had issues with their smart meters since getting them installed.
Research by Which?, carried out in 2019, found that just 42 percent of consumers who have changed energy suppliers since they got a smart meter have been able to keep the equipment working.
The devices can save users up to £130 a year, according to price comparison site Uswitch.
The group found that 54 percent of consumers who own a smart meter are using them to keep tabs on their energy usage.
If a person decides to switch to half hour updates from their smart meter, they can still remain on their fixed tariff, and don’t need a variable tariff as a result.
Mr Hasty said: “Smart tariffs are not specific to variable tariffs or fixed tariffs. As such, customers should not need to move to a variable tariff to benefit from any smart meter advantages.”
People can ask for your smart meter to be replaced with a conventional device before switching to variable billing, but they may be charged for this.
Mr Hasty said: “Although customers are able to request alternative meters, suppliers often charge a fee.
“The government’s aim to increase the number of smart meters in the UK puts pressure on energy suppliers, meaning they may not be accommodating to requests for alternative meters, unless customers have a specific technical issue.”
Millions of households across the UK now have smart meters installed, although you can refuse to have one put in.
Another key issue is how much energy prices will fluctuate depending on the daily demand.
The price comparison expert said: “Pricing structures are dependent on individual suppliers.
“For example, the Octopus Agile tariff is driven by wholesale prices and fluctuates half hourly.
“This tariff is affected by many variables, but does not account for demand and peak times. However, other tariffs operate differently.”
In April 2022, the energy price cap increased by £693 for people on default tariffs and £708 for prepayment customers.
This is a cap on energy rates rather than the total price, so the cap does not mean there is a maximum charge for a given day.
People who are struggling to pay energy bills can get support from Citizens Advice.