4 Million Smart Meter Owners Could Be Heavily Overcharged for Energy

Figures from the UK show that up to four million smart meter owners are suffering from inaccurate bills. This is due to meters not working properly in ‘smart’ mode, and significantly overcharging customers for their energy.

Official Figures Released Show the Scale of the Problem 

Official figures from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Desnz) show that the number of smart meters not working in smart mode reached 3.98 million in December, up from 2.7 million in June 2023. The problem with the meters not working effectively is the inaccuracy of the bills they generate. Some customers are reporting receiving huge energy bills due to faulty readings.

The Desnz has shared concerns that the bills are down to reporting errors by a minority of suppliers. The lack of action when it comes to a correction is the worry for customers.

Legal Obligation to Replace Faulty Meters

According to Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, suppliers are legally obliged to replace meters that aren’t working correctly. Suggestions are they aren’t doing a great job so far.

When working in smart mode, a meter is supposed to measure a household’s real-time energy usage. It then reports this data back to the energy company, which generates the bills.

Problems can arise when there’s a disruption in connection. At that point, the customer will be subjected to an estimated bill. When the customer supplies a meter reading, the bill is corrected. 

Billing in this way has led to some inaccurate bills. Some customers have overpaid for energy and struggled to get their money back from the energy company.

Worse Still, Debt Can Accrue

Unfortunately for some people, they can be underpaying for a long time (unbeknown to them), and then the energy company comes back asking for a large sum of money that the customer doesn’t automatically have. 

Some customers are left terrified of accruing large energy debts, so are using energy less and less. For the old or infirm, this can exaggerate existing health conditions, or cause significant financial anxiety. 

A non-profit organization focusing on the benefits of smart meters says the majority are working well and doing what they should be. Smart Energy GB claims that 88.6% were operating in smart mode at the end of 2023.

Energy Companies Desperate for Good PR

This is the latest in a long line of PR disasters for the energy companies in the UK. Record profits on the back of sometimes crippling price hikes have left the UK population well and truly fed up.

Many disgruntled customers are reporting delays in getting the money back they’re owed, or in some cases, not even receiving the whole amount back. Others are reporting threatening letters about energy debt they didn’t know they were in. 

Ofgem, the GB energy regulator, has asked energy companies for plans on how they will fix the ongoing connectivity issues with smart meters. 

Ofgem’s official line is, “If customers have concerns about the way this is handled, they can complain to their supplier, and if the issue is not resolved to their satisfaction, they should raise it with the ombudsman.” 

How to Check a Smart Meter Is Working

Customers are advised to check their internet connectivity and make sure the smart meter is connected to the internet. A blank screen is usually an issue.

Customers should contact their energy company if they receive an unexpectedly high or low bill. While a low bill might seem like a bonus, customers are liable to pay the shortfall later, so they are best off reporting it.

Customers have a legal right to fair and accurate energy billing, so they can demand that the energy company fix or replace their smart meter. This will prevent overpaying on energy bills. 

Stay Vigilant With Your Meter

Don’t always assume the meter is working fine. Technology and connections can fail from time to time, so customers should keep checking in on the meter to see if it’s working. Once per week should be sufficient.

While technology is improving, it’s not perfect yet. Customers should check their bills, understand their rights, and expect the energy company to uphold its end of the bargain. 

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The post 4 Million Smart Meter Owners Could Be Heavily Overcharged for Energy first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nick Beer.

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