FAQ: Smart Metering

1. What is smart metering?

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is an upgraded meter that automatically sends water meter readings through a fixed network of masts. The latest generation of smart meters are known as AMI meters, which stands for Advanced Metering Infrastructure.

Why is smart metering happening?

Wholesalers are looking for smarter, more accurate ways to read water meters, detect leakage and ultimately save water.

Due to climate change and the growing population, the UK could soon see a deficit in water resources, so saving as much water as we can is vital.

What are the benefits of smart metering?

  • Save time reading your meter - Reading your meter and sending us your reads isn’t always top of a business’s priorities. With a smart meter, your water meter reads are automatically sent to us meaning you don’t have to manually check them.
  • Get more accurate bills - Once a month, one of these meter reads will be used to calculate your water bill. Although your bill will still be estimated, it’ll be more accurate and based on the true reads from your smart meter.
  • See your meter reads online - Your daily meter reads can be accessed in Temetra, through your online account. This means you’ll be able to see any sudden increases in consumption which could be a leak.

2. Is smart metering being rolled out across the UK?

Each wholesaler has their own rollout plan. So far Thames Water, Scottish Water and Anglian Water are amongst the wholesalers with smart meter plans in place.

3. Will I have to pay for my business’ smart meter?

No, your smart meter should be funded by your wholesaler.

4. What is the battery life expectancy on a smart meter?

New smart meters are expected to last up to 15 years from your installation date, under normal use.

5. Will my smart meter show real time data?

As standard the data is updated every 24 hours showing usage from the previous day, rather than real time. This may vary from wholesaler to wholesaler.

6. Will I or my retailer be able to install our own logger on an upgraded meter?

Where upgraded meters have already been installed, it’s possible to replace these with logger compatible pulse meters however, the relevant wholesale policy, T&Cs and charges will apply – you’ll find these on your wholesaler’s website.

Where a logger needs to be fitted by Wave, we’ll approach the wholesaler on your behalf.

7. Will I be billed on actual readings once my meter is installed?

Although your bills will still be estimated, they’ll be more accurate as they’ll be based on true reads from your smart meter. This means your charges will more closely reflect the water that you’ve used and minimises the risk that your business is spending more on your water bills than you need to.

8. Can I request my meter to be upgraded to a smart meter?

Wholesalers are currently working geographically to upgrade meters, with the first wholesalers being Anglian Water, Thames Water and Sottish Water. As your water retailer, we’ve no influence over the wholesaler’s smart meter plans, so please don’t contact us to request a smart meter unless your current meter has stopped working.

When your meter is due to be upgraded, your wholesaler will get in touch.

9. Will my smart meter still need to be visually read?

If your business is within the planned areas and the network is available, your retailer won’t need to visually read the meter, as it will be in AMI mode. However, all upgraded meters can be visually read at any time.

10. Can I decline a smart meter if I don’t want one?

Climate change could lead to a deficit in water supply so wholesalers are doing all they can to save water. By upgrading to smart meters, they’re making sure they can keep the taps flowing for their customers.

Wholesalers have a legal obligation to manage and protect the water supply in their region, so you may not be able to refuse a smart meter upgrade. Please visit your wholesaler’s website for specific information relating to their policy, obligations and smart meter plans, as each region may differ.

Please note as your water retailer we can’t influence the wholesaler in this area.

If you’re a customer in the Anglian region, here’s some specific FAQs based on their smart meter roll out plans.

11. What is Anglian’s plan to roll out smart meters?

Anglian plan to upgrade all their household and non-household meters by 2035 by rolling out smart meters geographically. To help them decide on the most urgent areas, they’ve used the following criteria

  • Current levels of demand 
  • Current levels of leakage 
  • Future growth levels 
  • Current and future water abstraction demands 

Based on this, the first areas to have smart meter roll out are: Boston, Lincoln, Wellingborough, Colchester, and Norwich.

12. What can I expect from one of Anglian’s smart meters?

  • Anglian’s AMI meters transmit read data hourly via a fixed radio network (masts) back to Anglian’s Data Hub
  • Data collection begins with the Arqiva Flexnet Fixed Radio Network. Meters communicate with network masts on 412MHz encrypted transfer. Transmitting every 4 hours, each data packet contains, on average the last 12 hourly reads, alongside an alarm message for parameters like leakage, empty pipe, and backflow. The hourly data is then collated in the Arqiva Regional Network Interface (RNI) and transmitted to Anglian’s platform.
  • The data is updated every 24 hours showing usage from the previous day, rather than in real time
  • Wave can collect the read data from the Retailer Data Exchange (RDE)

13. Will every meter in each area be replaced at the same time? Or will it be spaced out?

  • Screw in meter replacements will all be attempted at the same time irrespective of the age of the meter. Some may take longer to do, due to access and location but Anglian will try and exchange them all.
  • External installation that requires excavation will be planned in for the same time. Internal installations will be booked in for a replacement once Anglian has contacted the customer and made an appointment.

14. Will I or my retailer be able to install our own logger on a meter upgraded by Anglian Water?

  • Yes, where loggers are already in place Smart/AMI meters with splitter cables should be installed.
  • If you or your retailer wish to install your own logger after Anglian has upgraded the meter, their normal ‘installation of retailer equipment’ process and charge will apply.
  • For more information, please refer to Anglian’s Wholesale policy along with terms and conditions.

15. How will it work for rural areas? Or if there’s limited phone signal at my business property.

  • Anglian believe 97% of their region will have coverage from the masts.
  • The Arqiva network used by the smart meters is not linked to the mobile phone system, other than that it shares some mast structures, so they’ll often have smart meter coverage even if there’s no mobile phone signal.
  • There’ll always be some areas where coverage will not reach. In those areas Anglian will look at other technologies to try and collect the data. Where this isn’t possible, meters will continue to need to be read like they are today.