Image What it means to have an active smart meter
Image Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

Switching energy supplier on bonkers.ie is always straightforward, easy, and free. However, if you have a new smart meter there are a few things you need to be aware of before you switch.

The topic of smart meters seems to be what everyone is talking about in the world of residential energy right now. And it’s no surprise considering the new meter type is currently being installed in homes nationwide.

However, many customers still seem to be unsure about how smart meters work and the type of tariff they’re signed up to, which can affect how energy customers switch suppliers.

In this article, we'll explain what it means to have an active smart meter and what you need to know before changing supplier to make sure your switch goes smoothly.

What is an active smart electricity meter?

A smart meter is the next generation of electricity meter that provides multiple meter readings a day to your supplier digitally, and in real time. 

Simply put, having an active smart meter means that:

  1. You have a smart meter installed.
  2. You are signed up to a smart electricity tariff.

Once your new smart meter has been installed, you won’t need to do anything immediately; it will still display a meter reading and work just like your old meter, regardless of the type of tariff you are signed up to.

However, in order to enable the benefits of your new smart meter, in most instances you will need to activate it by signing up to a new smart electricity tariff.

If you are not signed up to a smart electricity tariff then, in the eyes of your supplier, your smart meter has not been activated yet.

Energy suppliers use three Meter Configuration Codes (MCCs) to identify energy customers. They are as follows:

  • MCC01 - Standard 24-hour meter
  • MCC12 - Half hour
  • MCC16 - Day, Night, Peak (Smart meter)

How smart tariffs differ

Unlike 24-hour tariffs, smart meter tariffs have three distinct unit rates (day, night, and peak) with the most expensive period being peak, effective between the hours of 5pm and 7pm.

Energy users can potentially save money by moving their heavy usage outside peak hours, especially by using electricity-heavy appliances at night when rates are by far the lowest.

What's more, the combination of smart meters with smart tariffs allow energy customers to analyse their usage far easier, making it simpler to change usage habits, and therefore save money on bills.

    Do I need to switch to a smart tariff?

    In short, no. Customers are under no obligation to move to a smart tariff once their new smart meter has been installed.

    However, you generally won’t be able to access any smart data, or cheaper electricity rates if you don’t move to a Time-of-Use (ToU) tariff. You can read more about the benefits of being a smart tariff customer here.

    For customers who have a smart meter installed and have not signed up to a smart tariff yet, it’s possible to sign up to either a traditional tariff or a new smart tariff.

    Importantly, and here’s the kicker, if you have already signed up to a smart tariff and want to change your supplier, you cannot switch back to a regular, non-smart tariff; it must be to another ToU tariff.

    What’s the reason for this?

    There is no technical reason why customers cannot move back to a regular tariff. It would still be possible to change the configuration of a customer’s meter, i.e. from MCC16 to MCC01.

    Rather, this was a decision taken by Ireland’s energy regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). 

    The decision was made to make sure the transition to Time-of-Use tariffs was undertaken by consumers so that people would see the (financial) benefits of moving their consumption to cheaper times of the day.

    Here’s what you should consider when switching

    If you have a smart meter installed and you want to switch supplier, first of all, make sure you know what type of electricity tariff you are currently on.

    This is because if you are signed up to a smart tariff (whether you realise it or not), you will not be able to sign up to a non-smart tariff again, and your energy order will be rejected by the supplier you’re looking to sign up to.

    This is especially important as certain smart tariffs are not clearly named as such, so some customers may not realise they have switched to a smart plan - although this is unlikely.

    If your smart meter has not been activated, however, you can sign up to any tariff you would like.

    You can also make use of our search filters when conducting a comparison to make searching for the right tariff much easier.

    Use our energy filters on bonkers.ie

    When you conduct an energy comparison on bonkers.ie you can choose from a variety of filters on the left-hand column which helps you to find the exact type of plan you’re looking for.

    If you have a smart meter and you’d like to see smart tariff results only, you can do so once your comparison results have been generated. Simply click ‘smart tariffs’ under the ‘only show’ filter on the left-hand side of the search results page.

    Equally so, you can also filter out any smart tariff results to see only variable tariffs too!

    Discover all the filters available on our energy comparison tool in our guide on how to compare gas and electricity prices on bonkers.ie.

    You can filter your results for other types of comparisons on bonkers.ie also, not just for energy. It’s possible to filter your search results for broadband, banking, insurance, and more.

    What else should I know?

    Usually customers need to sign up to a smart tariff in order to access smart data, however, Electric Ireland allows customers to get access to the smart element of their meter without having to sign up to a smart tariff.

    This can be done for a number of months so customers can clearly analyse their usage patterns on a non-smart tariff and therefore see the benefits of moving their energy consumption to cheaper times of the day with a ToU tariff.

    You can find out more about that, as well as everything you need to know about smart meters in our latest bonkers.ie podcast which you can listen to here on bonkers.ie, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

    Switch and save on your energy bills today!

    If you’re looking to sign up to a smart or variable tariff you can compare the best deals from all suppliers in Ireland right here on bonkers.ie.

    You can choose from one of our energy comparison tools to compare gas, electricity, or dual fuel in seconds.

    Don’t forget, as mentioned above, we also have comparison tools for a variety of other services, so that you can save on your everyday household bills.

    Check out our broadband, banking, and insurance comparison tools to learn more.

    In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the latest in energy news on our blog and guides pages.

    Get in touch

    Do you have any questions about smart meters and switching? Is your meter active? Let us know in the comments.

    You can also reach out to us on social media with any smart meter queries. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.