Prepayment meters are getting a facelift. Now, they too are being integrated with smart technology in order to allow you to better manage your usage and expenditure.
Let’s take a look at what they’re all about.
What is a pay as you go smart meter?
Pay as you go smart meters essentially combine two existing energy meters: the prepayment meter and the smart meter. They offer much more user-friendly methods of adding credit to your account, as well as enabling you to keep track of your energy usage through your smart device. You still top up your meter with credit, but rather than being restricted to doing so via a key-card at a PayPoint, you can now do so through an app, online or via text well.
What are the benefits of pay as you go smart meters?
Most commonly, prepayment meters run out of credit due to either consumers forgetting to top up or not realising that their balance is low. Smart meters allow you to top up anywhere with the tap of a button.
They also allow you to manage your budget, seeing where you can reduce your energy consumption and at what times you’re using a lot.
You’ll get instant notifications as soon as your credit drops below a certain figure, so you’re alerted to top up, ensuring you don’t run out of gas or electricity. In fact, you can set your meter to automatically top up, likewise helping you budget.
Last, many suppliers offer what they call friendly hours, in which should you run out of credit at unsociable, inconvenient times (during the night; at the weekend), they’ll add credit to your account so you don’t go without energy.
Can I get a pay as you go smart meter?
If you’re currently on a prepayment meter, then you’ll be able to upgrade to a prepayment smart meter as long as your energy supplier has technicians in your area. Do bear in mind though that with the ongoing pandemic waiting lists for installations may be longer than usual.
How to read prepayment smart meters
Your pay as you go smart meter collects data on your energy consumption, allowing you to have more control of your usage.
Your meter has an In-Home Display (IHD). Your IHD is effectively a hub for your energy-based activity, allowing you to track your consumption over time and at a glance, see your balance, and top-up when you’re running low.
But it also showcases where your energy is being consumed the most and least, be that the tumble dryer, kettle, TV or even lighting. Research has shown that thanks to prepayment smart meters, consumers are making targeted energy-efficiency adjustments in their home, saving them money on their energy bill.
Tips for using prepayment smart meters
Consider your preferred payment method and make sure you’re set up in advance. If opting to pay online, then register your bank card through the app so it’s ready to go; if you’d prefer to top up by phone, then make sure you have the number and your account information easily accessible.
Be sure to get in the habit of regularly checking your balance too, and keep tabs on what you’re spending and when.
And remember, just because you have a smart meter that doesn’t mean you should stop being smart with your consumption. Make sure you still employ energy-efficient habits such as turning off devices or heating when not in use, using draught blockers and installing low-energy appliances.
Which suppliers offer prepayment smart meters?
The Big Six energy suppliers offer pay as you go smart meters, as well as many smaller companies. With the national smart meter rollout, all energy companies must offer upgrades to consumers before 2024, though you can request one sooner.
However, while most providers will offer at least one prepayment tariff, as energy deals go they’re never the cheapest. True, they offer flexibility to those who’d prefer not to be locked into a contract, but when you compare energy rates offered on other tariffs, you’ll see that even with smart technology, prepayment meters are on the dear side.
Whether you decide to switch meters or not, running regular energy comparisons can help prevent you overpaying for your gas and electricity supply. You’ll see what rates are on offer by a host of suppliers, as well as clear estimations of what you could save on your bill.