Smart energy

An autumn update on our smart meter installations

A photograph of an In-Home Display, supplied by Bulb

We started installing smart meters in our members’ homes in February. In the summer we explained that some members were experiencing issues with their smart meters, and outlined the ways that we’re working to fix them. This is a quick update on what’s been happening since then.

We’re installing more smart meters in the Central and Southern regions

In March we explained that we were experiencing some issues with the smart network, which is built and maintained by DCC. This is the network that smart meters use to send your readings to your energy supplier. The network is divided into two broad regions: Northern, and the Central and Southern.

Since then, DCC has worked closely with us and other partners in the smart rollout, including smart meter manufacturers. As a result, we’re pleased to report that the success rate of our installations in the Central and Southern regions has increased by around 10% points. Now 95% of the meters we install are able to connect to the smart network in the Central and Southern regions.

However we’re still experiencing issues connecting smart meters to the network in the Northern region, which is why we're meeting with BEIS, DCC and other suppliers.

We’re meeting with BEIS, DCC and other suppliers to improve reliability of the smart network

We’ll be sharing our experiences from the past year with a cooperative working group aimed at improving the smart network across the country.

The group includes other energy suppliers, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and DCC.

We believe there’s a lot to be learned from working together and pooling our knowledge. Any technical project at this scale will uncover new information as it progresses. Sharing knowledge is important for every partner.

We’ve built software to spot and fix problems before they happen

We’ve been listening to our members and learning with each installation. As a result we’ve built our own software to preemptively fix common issues before they become a problem for our members.

For example, once an installation is registered as complete, our software automatically checks that we have all the information we need from a member’s old meter and their new smart meter to issue their statement for the month. If any information is missing, it’s flagged as an issue straight away, so we can source the information we need.

We’re improving connection rates for In-Home Displays (IHDs)

We know that connecting smart meters to their In-Home Displays has been an issue for most suppliers. In July, we explained that 85% of the smart meters we install connect to the IHD instantly. And the majority of those that don’t connect first time can be fixed remotely.

Since July we’ve been working with our partners to develop software updates to improve the connection rates. We’ve already released some fixes, but we know we can do better. We’re hoping to have more news to share in the next few weeks.

To get ready for the updates, we recommend connecting your IHD to Wi-Fi. This will make sure that the software is updated automatically.

We’ve trained more of our Energy Specialists on the smart rollout

As more smart meters are installed in our members’ homes, they stop being a ‘specialist subject’. So our Smart Team have been training Energy Specialists across the company to help get them up to speed. This means they’ll be able to answer members’ questions faster.

We believe in the long-term benefits of smart meters

We’re excited about the smart rollout. We know that smart meters can't solve the climate crisis on their own, but with the smarter, more efficient energy system they help to create, they’re a great start.

A smart network also enables us to build smarter tools. This is exciting because understanding more about your energy use makes it easier to spot ways you can save.

We’re already testing a smart tariff and export payments (for the energy you generate and export to the grid). And we recently partnered with Samsung, so that Bulb members with smart meters can monitor their energy use in (almost) real-time and control smart home devices through the SmartThings app. There’s so much more to come.