The UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Desnez) has revealed that 4.31 million smart meters have not been operating in smart mode.

At the end of 2023, 3.98 million were found to be faulty, with the trade association for the energy industry, Energy UK, subsequently instructing suppliers to replace broken meters.

There are almost 35 million smart meters in Great Britain and the majority are operating as intended according to Smart Energy GB, a not-for-profit campaign helping homes across England, Scotland and Wales understand the importance of smart meters and their benefits.

According to its data, 88.6% were operating in smart mode at the end of 2023, up from 87.3% the previous year.

Money Savings Expert founder, Martin Lewis, branded Britain’s smart meter rollout a “disgrace”.

Speaking to BBC Sounds, he said: “The rollout of the smart meters has been a disgrace in this country. 20% of them don’t work and meet people with nothing more than a fixed metre which is what you’ve got anyway.

“If it doesn’t work, you’re not necessarily worse off, but on a macroeconomic level it has been a terrible rollout.”

Greg Hanson, GVP and head of sales EMEA North, at software development firm Informatica, believes the revelation could have a damaging impact on smart meters’ reputation, leading to a loss of consumer trust in the devices.

He said: “If smart meters don’t function flawlessly, they’re anything but smart, and this can have a negative and long-term impact on customer satisfaction. 

“Energy providers need to be 100% confident in the information they receive and analyse from smart meters, to provide the most accurate pricing information. When meters provide utilities companies with the wrong data, customers are left frustrated, facing inaccurate bills, and they lose trust in their energy provider.”

Prioritising data accuracy, clarity and governance will be key to ensuring smart meters live up to their name, he explained.

He added: “While smart meters are pivotal in moving the UK towards a more sustainable and efficient energy model, they rely on accurate and trusted data to work properly. To deliver on their aim of giving consumers greater control over their energy usage, utilities companies need to be able to identify anomalies and problems faster and more accurately- all this relies on data quality.” 

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Tags: energy, smart home, smart meter

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