Our guide to smart meters
Smart meters are becoming increasingly popular in Ireland, helping homeowners and businesses to reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency. But what exactly are they, and how do they work? This guide will give you all the information you need about smart meters in Ireland.
Table of contents
- What are smart meters?
- How do smart meters work?
- The benefits of having a smart meter
- Smart meter rollout in Ireland
- Upcoming changes in 2023
- How to read your smart meter?
- Smart tariffs
- How can they help you manage your energy costs
- Bord Gáis Energy - helping you transition
- Frequently asked questions
What are smart meters?
Smart meters are a recent innovation in the energy sector, designed to provide accurate, real-time information about your electricity usage. They use cutting-edge wireless technology to collect data on energy consumption and automatically communicate this information to energy companies and ESB Networks (ESBN).
They're an upgrade from traditional meters, which require manual readings and often lead to estimated bills. Smart meters allow for more efficient and accurate billing and give customers detailed information on their energy usage.
Compared to traditional meters, smart meters offer several benefits. They provide accurate information, allowing you to monitor your consumption daily and make more informed decisions about how to reduce your energy usage and save money.
They also enable suppliers to offer more flexible and tailored pricing plans, like time-of-use tariffs, which can help customers save money. Smart meters also support the development of renewable energy and a lower-carbon future, making Ireland more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
How do smart meters work?
Smart meters are advanced digital devices used to measure the consumption of electricity in homes and businesses. They're designed to replace traditional analogue meters, which require manual reading and provide limited information.
They work by using technology that enables them to communicate remotely with utility companies, providing periodic data on energy usage, and allowing customers to manage their energy consumption better.
One of the key advantages of wireless transmissions is that they allow for more efficient and accurate monitoring of energy usage. This means that energy companies can provide more accurate billing and help customers to better manage their energy consumption.
Smart meters operate using two-way communication, which means they can send and receive information from the energy provider. They're usually installed on the premises of the energy user and can measure consumption in real time.
They use the cellular wireless network to transmit data to the energy provider. The smart meter collects data on energy consumption usually every 30 minutes and sends it to the utility company daily or bi-monthly.
This data includes information on how much energy is being consumed when it is being consumed, and the overall cost of energy usage etc.
The benefits of having a smart meter
Smart meters are revolutionising the way we consume and manage energy, offering a range of benefits for both home and businesses.
Here are some of the key advantages of having a smart meter installed:
Smart meters support the development of renewable energy and a low-carbon future, making Ireland more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Smart meters provide accurate, up-to-date information on energy consumption, enabling you to monitor your usage and make informed decisions on how to reduce it.
Smart meters eliminate the need for manual meter readings and estimated bills, ensuring you're only charged for the energy you actually use.
By encouraging energy efficiency and reducing waste, smart meters can help to reduce carbon emissions and promote a cleaner, more sustainable future.
Smart meters enable energy companies to provide more accurate and efficient customer service, while also reducing the need for call-outs and home visits.
Smart meters can detect errors or faults in the network, making it easier for suppliers to diagnose and fix issues.
Smart meters can help to identify areas of high energy usage and peak demand, which can be targeted for energy-saving measures.
By reducing overall energy consumption, Irish energy consumers can save money on their bills while also contributing to a more sustainable future.
Smart meter installation in Ireland
In Ireland, ESB Networks (ESBN) is responsible for installing smart meters in homes and businesses. The installation process is free and typically takes around two hours.
Customers will receive a letter notifying them of the installation date, and it's important to ensure someone is home to provide access to the meter. During the installation, the old meter will be removed, and the new smart meter will be fitted in its place.
Smart meters are being installed by ESBN at no cost to consumers. By the end of 2024, all homes, farms and businesses in Ireland will have the option to have a smart meter installed.
We offer a range of smart plans that help improve energy efficiency, lower energy bills, and reduce carbon footprints.
In line with EU deployment regulations, ESB Networks announced a timeline for the installation of smart meters, with the first areas to receive smart meters being selected based on a range of factors, including geography, demographics, and network readiness.
- The rollout of smart electricity meters began in 2019 with MCC01 (24h meters) and is set to continue until 2024.
- Starting in September 2023 Day/Night meter customers (MCC02) will receive a like-for-like smart meter exchange from ESB Networks. This meter exchange won’t impact the customer’s tariff or payment arrangement.
- Customers with 3 Phase meters will also begin to receive a smart meter exchange. Again there is no impact on the customer’s tariff or payment.
- Night Storage heating (MCC03) customers where the night storage register is no longer in use, will be replaced with 24-hour (MCC01) smart meters. Where customers are eligible for a smart meter installation, they will need to accept this to continue to receive their Microgen payment.
- Timelines for the replacement of any remaining meter types are yet to be confirmed.
The Irish smart meter rollout
As of May 2023, ESB Networks have already installed an estimated 1.3 million smart meters across Ireland.
This phased rollout of smart grids will ensure that every home, farm, and business in Ireland has the option to have a smart meter installed. It is scheduled for completion in 2024.
Upcoming changes in 2023
From September 2023, if you have any of the following meters, you’ll be eligible to receive a smart meter replacement:
- Day/night meters will be replaced with smart day/night meters. Day/night simply means you pay different unit rates for daytime (8am to 11pm) and night-time (11pm to 8am).
- 3 phase meters (24-hour only) will be replaced with smart 24-hour meters. 3 phase meters have 3 main fuses instead of one fuse in single-phase installations.
- Night storage heating customers who haven’t used their night storage heating register for over two years will be eligible for a smart meter exchange. Night storage customers pay a 24-hour unit rate for electricity, apart from any storage heating used overnight, which is charged at a lower rate. One thing to note is that for night storage heating, there’s a standing charge applied to both the 24-hour electricity and the night storage electricity. If you choose to switch to a smart meter, you’ll be on a 24-hour meter and will only pay one standing charge.
What does this mean for me?
Customers on Day/Night meters (MCC02):
There will be no change to your tariff or bill arrangement. Your meter will be smart enabled, so you can choose to move to a smart plan after your meter has been installed for 30 days. See links to our smart plans here.
If you’re receiving a deemed microgen payment, and are eligible for a smart meter installation, you must accept this to continue receiving your payments.
If you’ve objected to a smart meter installation in the past, you’ll need to remove this objection before the end of August 2023 to continue receiving your Microgen payments.
Why do I need to have a smart meter to continue to receive my payment?
Networks will no longer send us deemed export data for your microgeneration when you become eligible for a smart meter, so we will no longer be able to make your payment.
Why is deemed data no longer provided?
This is based on the CRU guidelines.
If you’ve recently had a day/night smart meter installed, and you’re on a day/night tariff, we can offer you a day/night tariff when you’ve switched to us. Then, once you are our customer, we can offer you a smart plan.
Why can’t I switch directly to Bord Gais Energy on a smart plan?
It’s not possible for the electricity networks to change the smart data services from day/night to time-of-use on your meter with a change of supplier. However, once you’ve switched to us, we can offer you a range of smart plans to suit your needs.
See links to our smart plans here.
Customers on 3 phase 24 hour meters (MCC01):
There will be no change to your tariff or bill arrangement. Your meter will be smart enabled, so you can choose to move to a smart plan after your meter has been installed for 30 days.
See links to our smart plans here.
If you’re receiving a microgen payment, and are eligible for a smart meter installation, you must accept this to continue receiving your payment. If you’ve objected to a smart meter installation in the past, you’ll need to remove this objection before the end of August to continue receiving your microgen payments.
Customers on Night Storage Heating meters (MCC03):
If you have not used your night storage heating register in more than two years, ESB Networks will offer you a smart 24-hour meter installation (MCC01). If you don’t object to this installation, the night storage heating meter will be removed and a 24-hour smart meter will be enabled.
You’ll no longer need to pay the night storage heating standing charge. Your unit rates for your tariff will not change, but you’ll be on a 24-hour plan only. Your meter will be smart enabled, so you can choose to move to a smart plan once your meter has been installed for 30 days.
See links to our smart plans here.
If you don’t wish to have a smart meter installed at this time, you can register an objection with ESB Networks.
If you’re currently receiving a Microgen payment, you’ll continue to receive this, regardless of whether a smart meter is installed.
If you’ve recently had a 24-hour smart meter installed, you can switch to us on a smart plan. Please see a link to our smart plans here.
Why do I have to wait 30 days after my smart meter is installed to switch to a smart plan?
This is due to meter proving between your meter and ESBN, it takes 30 days to determine the remote comm’s level, in order to determine what smart plans your meter can support.
For more information about these changes and the smart meter upgrade programme, visit esbnetworks.ie.
How to read your smart meter
Reading a smart meter is easy once you know how.
You’ll see your cumulative meter reading in kilowatt-hours, or “kWh” on the main digital display screen. You don’t need to press any buttons on the meter. Read the on-screen digits displayed before "kWh" from left to right, remembering to include all digits when reading.
If you wish to see your meter readings for nighttime, daytime or peak time you will need to press the blue button on the left of your meter:
- Display screen: Your cumulative meter reading
- Press 1: Date and time screen
- Press 2: Your cumulative meter reading
- Press 3: ‘Night’ time meter reading. “A+T1” will be alternating in the top right-hand corner
- Press 4: ‘Day’ time reading. “A+T2” will be alternating in the top right-hand corner
- Press 5: ‘Peak’ time reading. “A+T3” will be alternating in the top right-hand corner
For more information on how to read your smart meter, check out this video from ESB Networks.
Smart meter tariffs
Smart meter tariffs are pricing plans that are based on data collected from smart meters. These tariffs typically offer more flexibility and customisation than traditional pricing plans, allowing you to choose the best plan for your lifestyle.
In Ireland, smart meter tariffs often involve time-of-use pricing, where the cost of electricity varies depending on the time of day or day of the week.
This pricing structure encourages consumers to shift their energy use to off-peak hours, when the cost of electricity is lower. This helps to reduce peak demand on the electricity network and promote more efficient use of energy.
A Time of Use (ToU) tariff is a smart tariff that offers different energy prices at different times of the day or week. With a smart meter, customers can access these tariffs and choose the best energy prices that suit their lifestyles.
ToU tariffs are designed to encourage customers to shift their energy use to off-peak hours when energy is cheaper and there is less demand on the grid.
Smart meter tariffs differ from traditional tariffs in several ways. While traditional tariffs are typically based on estimates or averages of energy usage, smart meter tariffs are based on actual usage data collected by the smart meter.
This allows for more accurate billing and more tailored price plans that better reflect your actual energy consumption patterns.
With our smart meter tariffs, we're able to offer you more flexible pricing options including time-of-use and off-peak pricing that better suit your lifestyle.
Here are some factors to compare when choosing your different smart meter tariffs:
- Tariff structure - smart tariffs are made up of time bands which have variable rates applied depending on when energy is used, for example during the day, at night time or at peak times.
- Renewable energy options - some smart meter tariffs may offer differing green energy options for using renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power.
- Discounts and incentives - some smart meter tariffs may offer discounts for using energy during off-peak hours and can help you manage your budget by setting usage targets. Weekend discount plans as well as electric vehicle (EV) plans are available for customers with smart meters.
By comparing these factors and considering your own energy usage habits, you can choose the smart meter tariff that best fits your needs and budget.
Please see our full tariff guide for more detailed information.
How smart meters help you manage your energy costs
Are you looking for ways to reduce your energy consumption and lower your energy costs? A smart meter could help.
Smart meters are designed to help you manage your energy costs and reduce your bills by providing accurate and up-to-date information on your energy usage. This means you can make more informed decisions about how and when you use energy, helping you to reduce your bills and save money.
Here are some of the ways that smart meters can help you manage your energy costs:
Up-to-date information - with the information smart meters collect, you can see how much energy you are using on a daily basis. This helps you to identify areas where you could save energy and reduce your bills.
Usage graphs - if you sign up to a smart plan, you can view usage graphs on your Bord Gáis Energy online account that show how your energy usage changes over time.
Flexible tariffs - smart meters allow you to choose from a range of flexible tariffs that offer different energy prices at different times of the day or week so you can choose the tariff that best suits your lifestyle.
Bord Gáis Energy - helping you transition seamlessly to smart meter technology
As evident throughout this guide, smart meters offer numerous benefits for energy consumers in Ireland. They provide accurate, automatic readings, eliminate the need for estimated bills, and offer flexible billing options and pricing plans. Smart meters also support the development of renewable energy and a low-carbon future, helping to make Ireland more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
If you haven’t already, we highly recommend switching to a smart plan or requesting a smart meter installation from ESB Networks.
Smart meters are an essential tool for modern energy management, offering improved customer service, more efficient network management, and better information on energy usage.
Don’t miss out on the benefits - find a smart plan today!
Common smart meters FAQs
No, it’s not compulsory to have a smart meter installed, but it is highly recommended.
If you don't want to have a smart meter installed, you have the option to opt out of the programme. The opt-out process is straightforward. You need to contact your ESB Networks and inform them of your decision not to have a smart meter installed. You will need to provide your MPRN.
It's important to note that if you choose to opt out, you may receive estimated bills, and your meter will need to be read manually.
Additionally, without a smart meter, you may not be eligible for certain tariffs or energy-saving programmes that are designed for smart meter users.
Ultimately, the decision to have a smart meter is up to you, and you should weigh up the pros and cons before deciding.
For Day/Night customers who have signed up for a microgeneration plan, it's important to note that if you do not accept a smart meter installation you may lose your microgen payment. If you have previously objected to a smart meter installation, you will need to remove your objection by 31st August 2023, or your payments will cease.
If you're an Irish-based energy consumer or business owner, requesting a smart meter installation is a straightforward process. The first step is to contact ESB Networks and express your interest in upgrading to a smart meter.
It's also worth noting that the installation of smart meters in Ireland is part of a national rollout plan that aims to replace all traditional meters with smart meters by 2024.
- Take a meter reading from your meter for 7 days in a row, at a similar time of day, and note any discrepancies or spikes in use.
- Check if your meter is still reading with all appliances switched off.
- Check your usage against the usage on ESBN data hub (note this is measured in kW). Sign up for the data hub here.
- If there is a discrepancy between your meter and this reading, you can contact ESBN at 1800 372 757 to advise.
- If you think there may be a technical problem with the meter, you can contact Bord Gais Energy to arrange for a test to be carried by ESB Networks out on your meter. Contact us at (01) 611 0101.
Please note that if no issue is found, you'll need to pay for the test. However, if an issue is found, ESB Networks will arrange to fix or replace the meter.
To get the most out of your smart meter, it's important to understand how it works and how to read your usage data. Use our app to set goals for reducing your energy consumption. You can also switch to another smart meter plan or tariff to take advantage of cheaper rates during certain times of the day or week.
It's a good idea to regularly monitor your energy use and adjust your habits accordingly. You can also set alerts or reminders to help you stay on top of your consumption and avoid unexpected bills.
If you're interested in switching to a smart tariff, visit our plans page to find a plan that best suits your energy needs.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a smart meter installed to switch to a smart tariff.
Please note that once you've signed up to a smart meter tariff, your meter cannot be changed back to a ‘non-smart’ meter under industry rules and you will continue to have a Smart Plan.
Existing Day/Night customers with smart meters can choose to switch to a smart plan today. New Day/Night customers with smart meters can choose a non-smart plan when switching and once you're our customer, we can then offer you a smart plan.
While smart meters are being rolled out across Ireland, you're not required to have one installed.
However, keep in mind that you may not be eligible for certain tariffs or benefits without a smart meter installed.
You can check if your area is eligible for smart meters by contacting ESB Networks or visiting their website.
They’ll be able to tell you if smart meters are available in your area and provide you with information on how to request one.
We hope you've enjoyed reading this smart meter guide and found what you need to make a more informed decision on the next steps of your greener, brighter, smarter energy future.