Suppliers restrict deals for homes with smart meters – research

Millions of households across Britain are given fewer options when they want to switch to new gas and electricity deals because they already have smart meters installed in their homes.

New research shows that households with smart meters are unable to tap into nearly five in six of the deals that are on the market, potentially giving them a worse energy contract.

Of 223 tariffs analysed by Comparethemarket, only 37 were available to households that already had a smart meter installed.

Those whose meters were still “dumb” had 186 options to choose from, the analysis found.

The prices were also higher on average. The average annual price for gas and electricity was £1,089 for people with smart meters, and £1,071 for those without.

“The industry should be encouraging people who haven’t yet to switch to smart meters, but this does not seem to be the case with tariff variety and pricing,” said Peter Earl, head of energy at Comparethemarket.

“There needs to be more incentives to encourage people to switch, including competitive pricing.”

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Smart meters were originally meant to be offered to every household across the UK by the end of last year, but the goalposts were later changed as it became apparent the industry could not meet that target.

By the end of 2020, there were more than 22 million smart meters installed in homes across Great Britain. Some homes will have two meters for both gas and electricity and in total 50 million meters will need to be installed before the target is met.

However, around 4.6 million of the smart meters that have already been installed are currently operating in dumb mode, many because they were not able to retain their smart functionality while switching to a new supplier.

Mr Earl added: “Smart meters are a useful tool to help people manage their energy consumption, but millions of homes are stuck with smart meters that operate in the same way that a traditional meter does, which doesn’t allow them to receive the full benefits promised.

“We need to see dedicated action to ensure these meters are soon enrolled into the smart systems and so that customer get the smart benefits and do not lose them when switching supplier.”