Personal Finance

Three million at risk of incorrect energy bills in smart meter fault

Nearly three million households are at risk of being charged the wrong amount on their energy bills due to their smart meter not working properly.

About 2.7 million smart meters are not in smart mode, according to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

Smart meters are a Government initiative to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses. They are not compulsory, but there is pressure on energy companies to install them in 75 percent of homes by 2025.

Smart meters measure the exact amount of gas and electricity being used in real time, meaning households get accurate bills and can monitor how much energy they're using and how much that gas or electricity is costing.

But they rely on internet signal, so those with poor connections, for example due to living in a remote area, an old house with thick walls, or in an area with a high internet demand, may instead have to be charged based on estimates.

While 33 million smart meters have been installed across the UK, 2.7 million are not working.

Paula McCracken, 48, from East Yorkshire, was incorrectly charged more than £900 on two occasions without warning in a mistake by EDF Energy.

She told the BBC: "If I had no family and friends around me to lend me a bit of money for shopping and things, I would have been completely penniless with two children for a week."

Another woman told how her direct debit plummeted from £200 to £2 leaving her worried about going into debt as she feels blind to how much energy she’s using.

While manual readings should eventually rectify an incorrect energy bill, some people are left in debt, or struggling to get their overpayments back.

The DESNZ said: "We understand a small proportion are suffering from technical issues and are working with Ofgem, energy suppliers and data experts to solve these issues."

NimbleFins has looked at the pros and cons of a smart meter to see if it can save you money.

It can give users knowledge of household appliance energy use and could lead to savvy families switching to more efficient electricals, or turning off things they don't need on.

But, as shown in this article, they rely on internet connection which isn't always available. And they can stop working after a while.

NimbeFins recommends keeping an eye on your smart meter for sudden fluctuations or if it completely stops working.

If you are being charged based on an estimate, energy companies usually wrote an 'e' on the bill.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


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