Smart Meters: What’s happening with the roll-out in 2023 and beyond?
With environmental targets more important than ever, what is going on with the smart meter roll-out?
Smart meters have been around since the 2000s - and they continue to be in and out of news headlines thanks to changing government targets.
To encourage the uptake of smart meter installations, the smart meter scheme was introduced. This allows households to have a completely free-of-charge installation, carried out by their energy provider. And at the time of writing, there’s no plans to stop this before 2025.
But since the smart-meter rollout was first announced in 2009, a lot has changed for the UK’s energy landscape.
So now, in the middle of an energy and cost of living crisis, and with environmental targets more important than ever, you might be thinking: what is going on with the smart meter roll-out?
Let’s take a look at the timeline so far, and what we can expect moving forward.
The Smart Meter Timeline
The UK government has been actively involved in promoting and regulating the smart meter rollout. Here are the announcements and milestones have shaped the program's development:
- 2009: The UK government announced plans for a nationwide smart meter rollout, setting ambitious targets for the installation of smart meters in every home and small business by 2020.
- 2011: The official rollout began with the installation of smart meters in homes and businesses, primarily by energy suppliers. This rollout continued over several years.
- 2017: The government extended the deadline for the completion of the smart meter rollout to 2024.
- 2019: The government announced that it would maintain its commitment to the smart meter program and ensure that the technology's potential benefits were realised.
- 2020: The smart meter rollout continued, with a focus on addressing challenges and ensuring that consumers were informed about the benefits of smart meters.
- 2023: The Government is now aiming for 80% of homes and 73% of small businesses in England, Scotland and Wales to have a smart meter by the end of 2025. (According to the National Audit Office.)
Goals of the smart meter rollout
Smart meters were introduced in the UK as part of a government-led initiative to upgrade the country's ageing energy infrastructure. It was hoped that they would make the UK’s energy systems more efficient and flexible.
They were also promised to provide consumers with more accurate and detailed information about a property’s energy usage. In turn, this could lead to the public actively seeking to:
- Cut their energy consumption
- Make homes more energy efficient
- Save money on bills
- Reduce carbon emissions associated with energy use
This is still very much relevant in today’s economy. The EcoExperts’ 2023 National Home Energy Survey revealed that 56% of people have taken measures in the past 12 months to make their home more energy efficient.
Smart meter installation has a big part to play in greener homes and business, moving forward.
Has the smart meter rollout had an impact?
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero have been monitoring the rollout from the beginning. In their June 2023 report, they found that
- At the end of 2022, there were 31.3 million smart and advanced meters in Great Britain in homes and small businesses
- This means that around 55% of all UK meters are now smart meters
- Homeowners used 2.3% less electricity and 1.5% less gas in a year when they switched to a smart meter (from a traditional meter)
Although the energy consumption reduction might seem small (around 3% overall), when applied to the whole of the UK the report estimates around £4.7 billion of savings to ‘domestic consumers’ over the next decade.
As with anything climate related, it’s the small changes that add up and are often significant to the big picture.
In addition to the positives, the rollout has faced various challenges including technical issues, delays, and consumer concerns about data privacy and security. And almost half of the UK’s meters are yet to be made smart.
The future of smart meters
As mentioned above, the Government is now aiming for 80% of homes and 73% of small businesses in England, Scotland and Wales to have a smart meter by the end of 2025.
This means millions more smart meters must be installed over the next 18 months!
Whilst it's not compulsory to opt in, if your existing meter is faulty or old and needs replacing, it will almost certainly be swapped out with a smart meter.
Ultimately, they are slowly but surely changing attitudes and behaviours when it comes to consuming energy in our homes and businesses. And that’s a good thing for both our wallets and the planet.
Making a living from smart meter installations
Whether you’re looking for a route into the electrical industry, straight from education, or considering a change in career, smart metering is a great next step.
Our training course for the Dual Fuel Smart Metering apprenticeships is a 13 month programme which encompasses both classroom and practical learning at our Ofsted Outstanding Wakefield centre.
This apprenticeship is suitable for anyone over the age of 18 and requires no previous qualifications in the energy sector. And as we’ve just explored, there’s plenty of work available when you qualify!