“Years Of Hell” For UK Smart Meter Owners: Are They Worth It?

Over the past week, nearly 4 million UK smart meter owners found themselves grappling with malfunctioning meters, as reported by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Desnez). This adds to an already dismal situation, with a staggering 2.98m units being deemed faulty by the end of 2023.

The situation begs the question: What exactly is happening with UK smart meters? Designed to offer an improved alternative to traditional gas and electricity meters, their widespread malfunction raises doubts about whether or not they are really worth it.

Number of Broken Smart Meters Soar

The BBC recently highlighted worrying statistics from Desnez regarding the functionality of smart meters. Initially, it was reported that 2.7m meters were not operating in smart mode as of June 2023. However, this figure has since been revised to 4.31m.

The issue has been attributed to errors from a minority of suppliers. Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, insists that suppliers must replace malfunctioning meters. However, this answer does little quell concerns, and doubts persist regarding the widespread reliability of smart meters.

Smart meters were introduced as a solution to the perceived drawbacks of traditional gas and electricity meters, promising greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness for households in the UK. Yet, the question remains: Is this solution truly delivering on its promises?

UK Energy Industry Concerns

There are growing concerns surrounding the effectiveness of smart meters, and delving into personal accounts sheds light on these issues starkly.

A poignant example comes from Peta Butler, 79, of Kent, whose energy bill skyrocketed to over £3,500 between January and June 2023, leaving her feeling “terrified” to use electricity. This ordeal began when she was switched to a smart meter on a single tariff.

Although Mrs Butler recently received £2,900 back from Utility Warehouse, it did not cover what she was owed: “It’s been two years of hell. It’s affected my health. And it’s completely taken away any confidence I’ve got. If I have to do anything, I just panic. I don’t sleep at night really because my body, it can’t let go.”

In response, a supplier spokesperson acknowledged the subpar customer service: “We acknowledge that the customer service Mrs Butler received fell below our usual high standards and we’re sorry for the inconvenience and distress this has caused

“We have spoken to the customer and after further reviewing the account, have agreed to provide a goodwill payment in acknowledgement of the service she received.”

Dianne Green, 75, from East Sussex, also had issues with her smart meter, causing her bills to rocket up: “I’m in debt all the time, and I’m paying,

“It’s very upsetting, and it’s very worrying. You’re constantly thinking of trying to find ways of putting it right. It does make you ill. It makes you frightened.”

Although Mrs Green has been waiting for two years for her problems to be fixed. British Gas has only recently sait it would intervene to personally resolve the problem.

Experiences such as that of Mrs Butlers and Mrs Green raise questions about the value of smart meters, especially considering the challenges encountered by UK suppliers. Let’s delve a little deeper.

Smart Meters: Are They Worth It?

Amidst the recent headlines, it’s natural to question their worth when considering whether making the switch to smart meters is advisable if you haven’t already explored them.

During the energy crisis of 2022 to 2023, gas and electricity costs more than doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels, prompting many to seek solutions for their household energy challenges. Smart meters emerged as a seemingly straightforward solution.

They efficiently measure how much gas and electricity a household uses and show how much it costs in real-time, sending these readings remotely to energy suppliers for a supposedly more accurate billing process.

Despite reports of malfunctioning meters, it’s important to consider both sides of the story. Let’s weigh the situation up.

Disadvantages of Smart Meters


  • Technical Issues – Smart meters work by transmitting gas and electricity readings remotely to energy suppliers. However, if this connection fails, customers may receive estimated bills. While suppliers should rectify this with manual readings, it can lead to temporary inconveniences like billing errors.
  • Energy Supplier Issues – As highlighted by previous experiences, supplier negligence and other issues can significantly disrupt smart meter functionality.
  • Installation Costs – Smart meters can be costly to install, posing a problem for those with financial constraints.


Advantages of Smart Meters

It’s important not to let these latest events deter you. After all, according to Smart Energy GB, there are nearly 35m smart meters in the UK, with the “vast majority” functioning as expected. The BBC reports that by the end of 2023, 88.6% of smart meters were operating in smart mode, up from 87.3% the previous year.

There are numerous benefits to smart meters worth considering. Let’s examine them more closely.

  • Accurate Billing – Inaccuracies aside, smart meters generally offer accurate billing. Precise data on energy consumption can reduce the likelihood of estimation errors that can lead to incorrect billing.
  • Real-time Monitoring – Unlike traditional meters, smart meters provide real-time tracking of energy usage. This can allow consumers to monitor and adjust their usage patterns accordingly, which may help them reduce their energy consumption and thus lower their bills.
  • Remote Meter Reading – As opposed to needing to manually read and submit your meter readings, smart meters can be read remotely, saving time and resources for consumers and energy providers alike.
  • Integration with Renewable Energy – It is possible to integrate smart meters with renewable energy sources, supporting the transition to a more sustainable energy landscape.
  • Grid Management – By providing insights into demand patterns, smart meters can contribute to better grid management, thus helping the efficient distribution of energy resources.