My gas and electricity deal has come to an end and the energy company has offered me a new contract.  However, they’re insisting I get a smart meter fitted. I’ve heard these don’t really work and I can’t see the benefit.  Am I better off looking for a different supplier, or will the new company also force me to have a smart meter? 

It’s always worth shopping around. Citizens Advice has a tool on its website which can help. Our energy star rating looks at how well suppliers perform on a range of measures, including customer service, rather than just price.

As regards the smart meter, you certainly don’t have to accept one. A supplier can’t tell you that you must have one installed.  However, it might mean you’re not eligible for all the deals on offer. In future the cheaper tariffs offered by suppliers might only be available to customers with smart meters.

If you do decide to go ahead, your supplier should explain the process beforehand, show you how it works and give you a number to call if anything goes wrong.

There are benefits to smart meters, they send daily meter readings to your supplier, meaning they can bill you accurately for the energy you’ve used.  They won’t automatically save you money, but you can use the digital ‘in-home’ display to keep track of how much energy you’re using and then try to reduce it.

The Citizens Advice consumer helpline (03454 04 05 06) can give advice on smart meter issues.

You can get free confidential advice from Citizens Advice Cheshire West  by visiting your local office in Northwich, Chester or Winsford Monday to Friday 9am and 4pm, and in Ellesmere Port  Monday to Friday 9am - 2pm.  No appointment is necessary.  Or, phone 03445 76 61 11 Monday to Friday 10am-4pm. 

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