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Everything you need to know about smart meters
What is a smart meter?
A smart meter is a new generation of energy meter that puts you in control of your energy – by measuring how much you use and on what kind of appliances. Then, unlike your old meter, it shares this info with you – online and on an In-Home Display.
What will a smart meter do for me?
With a smart meter you can say goodbye to the bother of having to submit meter readings/ topping up your meter and hello to a savvier way of controlling your energy.
How do smart meters work?
Smart meters use their own secure network to send us your meter readings, separate to your WiFi. You decide how regularly they send us your readings, which then determines how detailed the information is on your In-Home Display.
Why is the government supporting the smart meter rollout?
The government wants to upgrade our ageing energy systems and move towards a more-efficient smart electricity grid.
This will make it easier to control energy supply and demand, so the infrastructure is cheaper to maintain. It also allows more renewable electricity (from sources like wind, tidal, and solar) to be added to the grid, which will help tackle climate change.
Smart meter installation Code of Practice
We’ve signed up to the Ofgem-approved Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP). You can view the latest version of the Code here.
Frequently asked questions
From using your smart meter's In Home Display (IHD), to solving things if something goes wrong... you'll find the answers to our most frequently asked questions below.
Learn your way around the in-home display (IHD)
Your IHD is a pretty cool little gadget and can do all sorts of clever things. To get started, just press the little black button on the left hand side – this should wake it up and reveal the menu screen.
There might seem like a lot to take in, but it’s all pretty straightforward. Let’s break it down for you …
1 Electricity / Gas See how much energy you’ve used today and compare it to yesterday.
2 Dual This takes you to the home screen where you can see how much energy you’re using right now and how much it costs.
3 Message Access your message inbox to read important updates about your energy account.
4 History Look back at how much energy you’ve used over the last week, month or year.
5 Tariff View all your tariff information including your unit rates and standing charges.
6 Account In prepayment mode you’ll be able to top up and access emergency credit.
7 Settings Choose your preferences for screen brightness or sound. Change your targets and alerts.
See how much energy you're using
Pressing the Dual button brings you to the home screen where you can see what you’re using right now. Just think of the circular gauges like the speedometer on your car – the further round you go, the more energy you’re using. It’ll update every 10 seconds from your electricity meter and every 15 minutes for gas.
You can cycle through energy usage (kWh), cost per hour (£/h) or resulting carbon emissions (CO2kg) by pushing the button with the unit displayed on it.
Find out about your past usage
If you tap the Electricity or Gas icons on the menu screen you’ll access this screen. It allows you to look at your usage today and compare it to your usage yesterday, so you can see whether you’re on track to use more or less.
You can also see any targets you’ve set yourself for how much you aim to use in a day.
To go even further back you can tap the History button on the main menu and access the History screen. Here you can toggle between graphs that track your usage over the day, week, month or even year, to keep track of what you’re using.
Improve your energy efficiency
Normally your IHD is connected to mains power, but it’ll also run for short periods on battery power*. This is really useful for being able to move it round your home and check the impact of your electrical appliances on your energy usage.
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 …
1. Simply insert two AAA batteries and start the device as normal.
2. Move around your home turning off and on your appliances in order.
3. Wait 10 seconds each time, to see the effect on the electricity gauge on your IHD.
Make a note of which appliances make the biggest impact and think about how you could minimise the amount you use them. With a little thought, you’ll soon be able to make a real difference to your bills!
Set daily usage targets and credit alerts
You can keep on top of your energy usage by setting daily targets and alerts. Push the Settings button on your main menu to access the Settings screen where you can set targets for how much energy you aim to use in a day. You’ll be able to keep track of how you’re doing on the Electricity and Gas screens later.
If you’re a prepayment customer you can set yourself credit limits too, and if you pass below them the IHD will sound a handy alarm to let you know about it.
*Batteries not included
How to find your tariff and read your messages
You don’t need to dig out a letter or go online to remind yourself how much you’re paying for your energy – you can do it all using the Tariff screen.
Your meter will only show you the cost of the energy you’re using. The exact amount will depend on your tariff, payment method and if you’re a single or dual fuel customer. You’ll find your full tariff details online, on your welcome letter and on your bills or statements.
If you’ve received a message you’ll see the Message icon appear in the top right corner of the Home screen. Just give it a tap to open the message and read it.
If you ever want to go back and review your previous messages you can find them by tapping the Message button on the Home screen.
Get the best possible service
As a smart customer you’ve got options to consider about how often we receive data from your meters and how we use it. The more data we have access to, the better the service we can provide for you and the more we can tailor things to suit your needs, but at the end of the day, you’re in control.
Here’s what you need to consider …
How often we receive your data
How we'll use your data
If you want to opt in to a different data plan, just get in touch by calling us on 0333 321 6246.
Want to know more?
The Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP), of which Spark are a signatory, sets out our commitment to giving you a high standard of service throughout the install process, and our Data Protection: Smart Meters booklet outlines how we use the data we’ll receive from your smart meter – it’s important you read and understand this. You can download both here.
What to do if you get cut off or need to reset my meter
If your supply gets cut off and you need to reset your meter, then you’ll have to follow these steps to get back online. Before you start though, just make sure all your appliances are switched off.
You'll see this screen pop up on your In-home Display (IHD). Firstly, you'll need to hit Confirm and then on the next screen tap Restore.
Gas is a little bit different because you'll need to reconnect using your meter, instead of through your In-home Display. Press A to wake up the meter then wait for the on-screen instructions. These instructions will then prompt you to press A again and then B.
If you have a problem with your electricity or gas supply, or with either of your meters, it’s best to get in touch by phone – but before you do, there are a few things you should do first.
1 Check next door Ask your neighbours if they’re experiencing the same thing. The problem with your supply might be due to a wider power cut or gas problem – best to rule this out first if you can.
2 Look for flashing lights Check your meter for any flashing lights. Make a note of what colour they are and where they’re located on the meter.
3 Read the display Does your meter show a display? Or is it blank? If the screen shows an error code, make a note of it and get in touch with one of the team - we’ll tell you what to do next.
Pay As You Go with your smart meter
Smart meters are ideal for Pay As You Go. You no longer have to worry about inserting a card or key into the meter – so long as you’ve got your unique top-up code with you when you go to top up, the credit will go straight onto the meter automatically.
How to top up
It’s really simple - there are a number of options you can use to top-up…
Top up from anywhere
Download our Swift payg app and you can top-up from the comfort of your sofa - no more running to the shops in the winter months! It's free in the App Store and Google Play and once you register, your payment information and unique top-up codes are securely stored - so next time, you'll be able to top-up your meter in seconds.
Or you can use Smart Pay - create an account and manage all your payments online or make one-off payments to tide you over until your next trip to the shops - it's up to you. Once your account is up and running, you can even pay by text if you want to.
Find out more at www.sparkenergy.co.uk/smart-pay
Go to a PayPoint location
Make a note of your unique top up code(s) and take them to your nearest PayPoint location - you’ll find it in a corner shop, supermarket or garage near you.
If you need help to find your nearest PayPoint visit www.paypoint.com and pop in your postcode.
The cashier will be able to use the top-up code to add credit – anything up to £100 per meter.
Use our automated service to top-up over the phone by calling: 0333 313 9170
It’s easiest to set up an online smart-pay account first but don't worry if you don't have one, you can still top up in this way, it'll just take a touch longer.
Take it easy
There might be a 10 minute delay while we transfer the credit to your meter, but it should be there by the time you get home from the shops or grab a cuppa.
You can use the History button on the Transactions screen to view your current balance and recent top-up activity, to help keep track of how much you’ve spent and what’s remaining.
How to access your emergency credit
When your prepayment credit gets low, your IHD will make a noise to alert you.
You’ll have the option to access £5 of emergency credit per fuel to keep things running until you can get topped up.
To access it, simply hit the E-Credit button on the Low Credit screen. Once you do, you’ll see the credit start to count down, and this is your cue to run out to your local PayPoint and get topped up!
If you don’t top up before the emergency credit runs out, you’ll be cut off and have to reconnect when you do top up again. Remember that you’ll need to repay the emergency credit you’ve used when you top back up too.
Find out more about Smart Pay-As-You-Go today!