Everything you need to know about smart meters for your business 

A smart meter is greener and may save your business time and money – here’s how to get one  

If your start-up hasn’t already been swept up in the smart meter rollout, it’s time to familiarise yourself with the technology that’s aiming to make business energy easier, greener, fairer and more transparent.

It’s not yet compulsory to have a smart meter installed, and you may still have unanswered questions about how exactly they work.

Here, we explain what a smart meter is, why it’s important, and how you can get one.

3 ways a smart meter can help your scale-upA smart meter can help you deal with rising energy prices by improving the accuracy of your bills and helping you take greater control of your energy usage

What is a smart meter?

Put simply, a smart meter automatically sends gas and electricity readings to the energy supplier. By reducing the need for manual readings, you save time, and your bills are more accurate, as you’re only charged for the energy you use.

How does a smart meter for your start-up work?

To submit your readings, a smart meter uses similar technology to a mobile phone (though you don’t need a mobile phone signal to get one) with energy data transmitted to your supplier through a wireless network.

By default, readings will probably be collected once a month, though you can request to have more regular readings if you’d prefer. New customers won’t be able to opt out of sharing electricity meter readings on a half-hourly basis, though existing customers can continue to opt out until they change supplier or contract.

And although the process is entirely automatic, if you are with a supplier that provides them, the in-home display enables you to monitor your energy usage. This could help you to reduce costs and improve your business energy efficiency.

Smart meter benefits

Smart meters for commercial premises have several key benefits over traditional energy meters.

Greater control

If you receive an In-Home Display (IHD), smart meters make it easy to monitor your business energy usage daily, weekly or monthly. You can then identify periods of increased usage and look for ways to cut down and save money.

Improved accuracy

As accurate, up to date information is delivered direct to your supplier straight from your meter with no need for a manual reading, this reduces human error and ensures your bills are completely fair and correct.

Help protect the environment

One of the main drivers behind the smart meter rollout is their superior green credentials. By installing one in your start-up, you can help the UK reach its net zero targets in several ways.

Firstly, with an IHD, the ability to monitor your energy encourages you to cut down on unnecessary usage, such as turning off unneeded appliances and limiting temperature control measures, which reduces emissions.

Secondly, by providing accurate information about how much energy people are using throughout the day and the year, suppliers can manage supply and demand more efficiently.

A step-by-step guide to installing a smart meter for your businessGreat Britain is upgrading to smart meters at a quick pace because of the potential benefits to efficiency, cost-saving and the environment, but how easy is it to get one installed for your business and what’s the process?

What are the costs?

You can have a smart meter installed at no extra cost to your business. Once you’ve agreed to have one, you just need to arrange a suitable time for an engineer to visit your premises and install it. Your new meter should be installed in the same place as your old one. Some suppliers will do so at no extra cost to your business, though it’s not a guarantee.

How to get a smart meter for your start-up

Start-ups with fewer than 10 employees may be eligible for a smart meter, and your business energy supplier is legally obliged to offer you one if you are.

However, if the signal at your premises is not yet strong enough or there’s limited space, your business may not be quite ready to have a smart meter installed.

If you think you are eligible, and you haven’t already been contacted by your energy supplier, you should reach out to ask them when one is likely to be installed.

Also, be aware that you have no obligation to remain with your current supplier to get a smart meter, or even if they’ve already installed one. The second generation of smart meters, SMETS 2, allow you to switch supplier without any disruption to your meter readings.

If you have a first-generation smart meter (SMETS1) and you switch supplier and get a new one installed, you may have to provide readings manually until you get your new meter. However, you don’t need a new smart meter if you switch supplier as the SMETS1 will be enrolled into the Digital Communications Company (DCC).


In total, the whole process should take between one and two hours, during which time your electricity and/or gas will need to be switched off.

While you have the engineer on site, don’t hesitate to ask them any questions. They should show you how to read the display if you get one with your supplier, give you a copy of the instructions and ensure you know who to contact in the event something goes wrong.

For more information about the benefits of installing a smart meter in your workplace, visit Smart Energy GB at smartenergyGB.org.

This article is part of a paid-for information campaign for Smart Energy GB.

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Henry Williams

Henry Williams

Henry Williams is a freelance journalist specialising in small business topics.

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Smart meters