Whether you’ve just had one installed or are interested in getting a smart meter, one of the first questions that gets asked is, how does a smart meter save you money?

Unfortunately, a smart meter won't cut your energy bill in half with a click of a button. What it will do is give you a clear picture of how much energy you’re using in your home. By reducing your energy use and improving your energy efficiency, you should save money too.

The first step to saving money with your smart meter is to get to know your In-Home Display.

What is an In-Home Display?

It’s a handy digital device that you place close to your smart meter. The In-Home Display then talks to your smart meter so it can tell you more about the energy you're using in your home.

An In-Home Display showing the home screen with the electricity speedometer and gas flame

How can I tell how much energy I’m using right now?

From the home screen of the In-Home Display you’ll see the electricity speedometer and the gas flame.

The electricity speedometer shows you how much electricity you’re using in your home. It’s updated every few seconds. As you use more or less energy in your home, the dial will move up and down. The dial passes through three zones:

  • Green for low energy use
  • Amber for medium energy use
  • Red for high energy use

The gas flame increases in size to show you how much gas you’ve used in the last 30 minutes.

Quick tip: by selecting the O button, you can view your energy use in pounds an hour or in kilowatt hours (kWh).

An In-Home Display on a table communicating with a smart meter on a wall

How do smart meters save energy?

They tell you more about your energy habits – how you use energy in your home. If you make small changes to your energy use, you can then monitor these changes on the In-Home Display.

For example, turn off the lights in any rooms you’re not using. Or switch the appliances you use the most on and off and check the effect it has on the electricity speedometer. See how low you can get the speedometer.

The more you learn about your energy habits, the easier it’ll be to change them. And by changing them you should end up using less energy in your home.

An In-Home Display showing how much electricity has been used during the day

Can I check electricity use over time?

Yes. From the main menu of the In-Home Display, you can select the Electricity usage screen and see how much electricity you’ve used in kilowatt hours (kWh).

You can view your:

  • Daily energy use
    Divided into 24 hours, with each green bar representing a one-hour period.
  • Weekly energy use
    Divided into 9 days, with each green bar representing a day.
  • Monthly energy use
    Divided into 6 weeks, with each green bar representing a week.

Pressing the O button switches the value between cost as pounds an hour and energy as kW.

How can a smart meter save me money?

With your In-Home Display, not only can you see how much energy you’re using, you can also see how much it’s costing you in pounds and pence. The lower the hourly rate, the less the energy will cost you and the more money you can save.

And remember, a smart meter makes your bills more accurate so you’ll only be paying for the energy you use.

Once you feel comfortable with your In-Home Display, why not try setting an energy budget?

An In-Home Display showing how to set up an energy budget

How to set an energy budget in your In-Home Display

Follow these steps to set up an energy budget for a SMETS2 smart meter:

  1. From the home page press the Home button (House icon).
  2. Scroll to Settings and press O.
  3. Scroll to Budget and press O.
  4. To set the Electricity budget, scroll to Electricity and press O.
  5. Use the Left and Right arrows to scroll to the desired budget amount and press O to confirm.
  6. To set the Gas budget, scroll to Gas and press the O button.
  7. Use the Left and Right arrows to scroll to the desired budget amount and press O to confirm.

When you set your budget, you’ll be able to see it in the Electricity usage screen. Any extra cost above your budget will be shown in red.

Just so you know, your energy supply won't be switched off if you go over budget. This is to help keep you on track and hopefully save you energy and money in the long-term.

If you have a SMETS1 smart meter, check out this guide to find out how to set up an energy budget using a Smart Energy Tracker.

How do I know what energy budget to set?

Ofgem have created some Typical Domestic Consumption Values (TDCVs) which are estimates of energy use for typical households:

Low usage (Annual electricity: 1,900 KWhs, Annual gas: 8,000 kWhs)
On average a 1-2 person household using electrical appliances mainly on evening and weekends. Washing machine being used once a week.

Medium usage (Annual electricity annual: 3100 KWhs, Annual gas: 12,000 kWhs)
On average a 3-4 person household using heating and electrical appliances all day and the washing machine about three times a week.

High Usage (Annual electricity: 4,600 KWhs, Annual gas: 17,000 kWhs)
On average a five person or more household using heating and electrical appliances all day and the washing machine daily.

These TDCVs can help you decide the kind of energy budget that’s right for your household.

An In-Home Display with the LED highlighted in green

How can I tell if I’ve gone over my energy budget?

From the home screen of the In-Home Display, use the Left and Right arrows to switch to Energy today. From here you can see how the energy use for today compares with the budget you've set.

Press the O button and change the value between cost as pounds an hour and energy in kilowatt hours (kWh).

For electricity use, you can also look for the coloured LEDs that appear beneath the O button. When the LED is green it means you are under your target. If it's amber (orange) it means you're on track to meet your target. When it turns red, you've gone over your target.

If the LED is blue this just means you're a gas-only customer.

10 things you can do to save energy in your home

Smart meters and In-Home Displays help you learn more about your energy. But to save energy so you can save money, you need to try changing the way you use energy in your home.

Here’s 10 tips to improve your energy efficiency:

  1. Turn your central heating down. Just a 1C reduction could save you money. But to stay warm and healthy, keep the rooms you use regularly between 18C and 21C.
  2. Put up thick curtains to keep the heat in.
  3. Wash clothes at 30C. Machine washing clothes at 30C uses 40% less energy than at higher temperatures.
  4. Try not to use standby. Some appliances use as much as 90% of their energy in standby mode.
  5. Keep the lids on pots and pans to speed up cooking time and save energy.
  6. Fully load the dishwasher and try to use economy settings whenever you can.
  7. Dry clothes outside. Fresh air is free. Using a tumble dryer isn't.
  8. Take showers. They use a lot less energy than baths.
  9. Turn off the lights. They eat up about a quarter of the average electricity bill.
  10. Use energy-saving or LED bulbs (which are cheaper to run).

Try one of the energy saving tips above or you can read our guide to ways to save energy in the home.

An SSE smart engineer arriving to install a smart meter

So does a smart meter save you money?

First you need to book an appointment and have one installed. Then regularly check your In-Home Display to learn more about the energy you use in your home. Once you know more about your energy habits, you can change them to try and save energy in your home.

It’s not a quick fix, but it can make a big difference.

Still need to upgrade to a smart meter?