What are smart meters?
Smart meters provide real-time information on energy consumption, telling you how much it's costing. A traffic light system also indicates energy levels – with red high and green low. They send details of your energy use direct to your energy supplier – which could signal the end of estimated bills.
Why are we talking about them?
The Government wants smart meters to be installed in every UK home by 2019. However, there are fears that the costs of installing the meters will be passed on to consumers at a time when many are struggling to pay excessive bills.
Where can I get one?
The mass roll-out of smart meters is not due to start until 2014, but some energy providers, such as British Gas and First Utility, already offer them to customers.
How much will it cost?
Energy providers are installing smart meters free, but it is estimated that the total cost of introducing them will top £11bn. Consumer groups are concerned that the cost will be passed on to customers in other ways.
Will it save me money?
The smart meter itself won't save you money, but it will allow you to see how much energy you're using. For example, it will show how much it is costing to leave a phone charger plugged in when not in use. The idea is that it will lead to more thoughtful energy use which will save money and help the environment.