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How to use your In-Home Display (IHD)

By Denise Wilton

Smart meters come with an In-Home Display (IHD). Find out why they’re useful, and how to use your Chameleon IHD6, which you’ll get when your smart meter is installed by Bulb.

An illustration of the Chameleon IHD 6

What is an In-Home Display?

An In-Home Display (IHD) is a small electronic screen which shows your energy usage in kilowatt hours (kWh), pounds and pence. It talks wirelessly to your smart meters and updates every 30 minutes for gas and roughly every 10 seconds for electricity.

This guide explains how to use the Chameleon IHD6 In-Home Display. That’s the one with a white case, that Bulb supplies with every smart meter installation.

Does an In-Home Display control my energy?

No. In-Home Displays are useful to see how much energy you’re using, but they don’t control your energy. If you press the wrong button on the display, or forget to look at it for a week, everything in your home will carry on working just fine.

Is an In-Home Display the same as a smart meter?

No. Smart meters physically replace your old metering equipment, and unlike an In-Home Display, they're usually tucked out of sight.

An In-Home Display is the small screen that the engineer will offer you once your smart meters are installed. We’ve written more about why you'll be offered an In-Home Display over on the blog.

A photo of a smart meter and an In-home Display.
The smart meter is on the left, and the In-Home Display (IHD) is the small screen shown in the photo on the right.

Will an In-Home Display help me save money?

An In-Home Display won't save you money on its own, but it makes your energy usage easier to see. You'll get a better idea of how much energy different appliances use, which means you can save money by making more informed choices about when and how you use them.

According to Smart Energy GB, 86% of people with a smart meter said they’ve changed the way they do things around the house to use less energy and save on their bills.

Where should I keep my In-Home Display?

To make the most of your In-Home Display, it’s useful to keep it plugged in somewhere you can easily see it. But it needs to keep a good connection with your smart meter, so wherever you choose to keep it, check the signal strength by looking at the 4 bars on the top left of the screen. The more bars, the stronger the signal. If the signal is weak, move the In-Home Display closer to your electricity smart meter.

Do I have to keep my In-Home Display plugged in?

Yes, normally, you should keep it plugged in. But it has got an internal battery which lasts about an hour, so you can carry it around the house to investigate how much energy different appliances are using.

And if the screen goes blank when it’s unplugged, wake it up by pressing the round, flat button on the back. If it doesn’t wake up, just plug it back in to recharge it. You won’t lose any data if it loses charge. It’ll all leap back into life when you plug it in again.

What do the symbols on my In-Home Display mean?

An example illustration showing the homescreen of a Chameleon 6 In-Home Display, connected to Wi-Fi.

Across the top, left to right:

The strength of the signal between your IHD and your smart meter - the 4 bars on the top left of the screen show the strength of the signal between your IHD and your smart meter. The signal is stronger the closer the IHD is to the electric meter. So ideally, you should keep your IHD within about 5 metres of your electric meter.

The time - this one's pretty obvious. You can use your IHD as a clock, too.

Battery charge - the small battery icon to the top right of the screen shows how much charge is left in the IHD’s battery. If it’s running low, plug it in to recharge it. If there’s a tiny lightning bolt in the centre, it’s plugged in and charging.

Wi-Fi strength - the 4 curved bars at the top right of your screen show the strength of the connection between your IHD and your Wi-Fi. We recommend keeping your IHD connected to Wi-Fi so the software is updated automatically.

In the centre, left to right:

Usage indicator for gas and electricity- the large curved bars on the left of the screen show how much energy you're using. The yellow curved bar shows your electricity usage, and the blue one shows gas. If you’ve set a budget for your gas or electricity, you’ll see it as a marker on these curved bars.

Electricity usage and cost - wherever you see a yellow lightning bolt it’s referring to electricity. On the home screen shown in the picture above, you can see that the electricity usage so far today is £0.98.

Gas usage and cost - the blue flame icon always refers to gas. And so on the home screen shown in the picture above, you can see that the gas usage so far today is £0.65

Time period for the information on your home screen - you can press the words 'So Far Today' to scroll through different time periods. You can choose to see the cost of your energy so far today, this week, this month or this year. The final press in the sequence shows your energy usage now.

Across the bottom, left to right:

Home button - the little house icon on the bottom left of the screen is the home button. Pressing this will always take you back to the home screen.

Menu button - the 6 little rectangles at the bottom right of the screen make up the menu button. Pressing it brings up the different options for your IHD. These include:

  • Settings - where you can connect the display to Wi-Fi, change the alerts and tones of the display, or choose which information to show on the home screen

  • Budget - where you can set a daily, weekly or monthly budget to help manage your spend

How to get started with your In-Home Display

There's a built-in tutorial

To get started quickly, use the built-in tutorial. It uses sample data to show what happens when you press each button.

To find the tutorial, press the Menu icon at the bottom right of the screen – that's the icon with the 6 small rectangles. Move through the screens using the round arrow button on the right. When you see the Tutorial button, press it to get started.

Pressing the buttons won’t accidentally switch off your supply or change your tariff, so you can feel comfortable having a poke around.

Or you can get started by exploring the home screen. This video shows you how:

How to connect your In-Home Display to Wi-Fi

Like a lot of modern devices, your In-Home Display might need an update occasionally. We recommend connecting it to Wi-Fi to keep it updated automatically.

Here's a quick video to show you how, and we've put the steps below:

How to connect your IHD to Wi-Fi

  1. Press the Menu icon 

  2. Press the right arrow until you see Settings

  3. Press Settings and then Wi-Fi

  4. Press the white button to ON

  5. Press Scan to look for your Wi-Fi network

  6. Choose your Wi-Fi network

  7. Enter your password

  8. Press Join

  9. Your In-Home Display is now connected to Wi-Fi

How to set up the home screen on your In-Home Display

Your IHD will update every 30 minutes for gas and roughly every 10 seconds for electricity.

You can choose the information it displays on the home screen. This video shows you how:

The cost of gas shown on your IHD always includes the daily standing charge. The charge is applied at midnight for the upcoming day. The standing charge is not included in electricity costs. To see the total cost of electricity including the standing charge, press the Menu icon, and then the Account button.

How to set a budget on your In-Home Display

Setting a daily, weekly or monthly budget can make it easier to see how much you’re spending. It’s for guidance only – you won't lose power if the screen shows you’re over budget, but it can be a useful prompt to take action.

The budgets for electricity and gas are set individually. Once they’re set, the coloured, curved bars on the home screen give an at-a-glance view of how you’re shaping up.

This video shows you how to get set up, and we've explained the steps one-by-one below:

How to set a budget on your IHD

  1. Press the Menu icon in the bottom right corner to bring up the different options.

  2. Find and press the Budget button.

  3. The budgets for electricity and gas are set separately, so choose your fuel and press Change to get started.

  4. Use the Plus and Minus buttons to set the budget in pounds and pence.

  5. Press Day to choose the time frame for your budget. You can set it by Day, Week or Month.

  6. When you’re happy with your choices, press Set, and then Ok to confirm them.

See how much energy different appliances are using

You can use your In-Home Display to see how much electricity a single appliance uses. To start, unplug your In-Home Display and walk over to the appliance you’re curious about. On the home screen, press So far today (or this week, month or year, depending on your view). Keep pressing until you see Usage Now.

Make a note of the energy usage in pounds and pence, and kW (kilowatts). Don’t forget some appliances are on all the time, like your fridge/freezer, so straight away you’ll see the cost per hour for keeping your home running.

Next, switch your appliance on. Wait for 10 to 15 seconds and you'll see the cost and kW change. By seeing which appliances are the most expensive to run, it’s easier to understand where you could make changes and save in the future.

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