Smart Meters in Ireland: Everything you need to know

Smart meter over an ireland city

The rollout for smart meters in Ireland went live at the beginning of March 2021 and will last until the end of 2024. This complete review covers all your questions regarding the new ESB smart meters. Read on to find out what a smart meter is, how to get one, its advantages, disadvantages, and much more.

What is a Smart Meter?

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Simply put, a smart meter is a device that counts your electricity usage in real-time and wirelessly relays that information.

This allows you to have up-to-the-minute control over your electricity consumption, intended to help reduce electricity usage in your home.

A smart meter will also automatically communicate your electricity usage daily to your electricity supplier. Eliminating the need to submit meter readings and ensuring precise energy bills rather than paying for an estimated amount.

How do smart meters work?

Your smart meter transmits your electricity usage wirelessly via a secure 2G mobile phone network, provided by Three Ireland Limited.

The technology used in the ESB smart meter-supplier communications employs multiple layers of cyber security and complies with all applicable data privacy and protection laws.

Are smart meters dangerous?

Smart meters use the same wireless technology as mobile phones. It does not pose any higher dangers than any mobile phone.

According to the CRU, “Health authorities around the world confirm that there are no health effects from smart meters. Smart meters are safe and follow all requirements and international standards”.

How is a smart meter different from a regular electricity meter?

A standard electricity meter will keep count of how much electricity you use each day. You need to submit a meter reading to your energy provider regularly to pay your bill accurately.

In contrast, a smart meter can track when you use your electricity and not just how much. This gives you more control as to when to use larger appliances and benefit from lower electricity tariffs. A smart meter will also automatically relay your meter readings to your supplier, saving you time and effort. Usually, the different prices are divided into three daily prices. For example, the Electric Ireland smart meter plan is divided as follows:

  • Smart meter periods
  • Peak time: From 5 to 7 pm.
  • Night time: From 11 pm to 8 am.
  • Day time: From 8 am to 5 pm & 7 to 11 pm.

Usually, night time rates are the most economical, and peak time is the most expensive rate.

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What are the Pros and Cons of a Smart Meter?

If you're looking for ways to save money on your electricity bills, a smart meter can help by allowing you to monitor and cut back on your consumption. Smart meters in Ireland will also give you access to a wider variety of tariffs, some of which offer cheaper prices during certain hours.

ESB Smart Meter Advantages

Let's have a look at some of the various advantages of ESB smart meters.

  • Accurate billing - Smart meters automatically send accurate meter readings to your energy supplier, you no longer need to deal with estimated bills.

  • Real-time display - With a smart meter, customers can use the In-Home Display monitor, their online account, or an app to see how much energy they are consuming.

  • Savings - Studies suggest that customers with a smart meter could save an additional 2.5% on their average energy bills per year (around €30) because of increased awareness of their consumption.

  • Eliminate inefficient devices - A smart meter will allow you to identify which appliances are consuming the most energy. You can then easily take steps to replace items or encourage energy-saving behaviour.

  • Curb your behavior - There are many ways to reduce your bills by changing energy spending habits in your household. A smart meter can help you easily identify these.

  • Access better tariffs - An ESB smart meter allows for time-of-use tariffs. These tariffs take consumption patterns into account and allow consumers to take advantage of cheaper rates during off-peak hours. With this type of tariff, you could save up to 8% (around €80 a year) on your energy bills if you consume more than a quarter of your energy during off-peak times.

  • Reduce Carbon Footprint - Smart meters will aid Ireland’s Climate Action Plan. Less energy consumption equals less demand. Less demand means a further reduction in carbon-producing fuels that produce electricity. So not only will customers be saving money, but they’ll also be helping to save the environment and push Ireland closer to its EU carbon reduction targets.

  • Support renewable energy - Smart meters will be able to calculate electricity imports and exports. This means that customers who have additional energy sources, such as solar power, wind farms, will find it easier to feed their excess electricity back into the grid and get paid for it.

  • Help the grid - Receiving regular updates on your electricity usage will allow ESB Networks to find faults in the distribution system faster, making your meter safer and more efficient to manage.

  • You can still switch suppliers - Having a smart meter won't stop you from being able to switch suppliers regularly to get better rates.

Are there any disadvantages to smart meters?

Let's examine some of the various disadvantages of ESB smart meters.

  • Cost - Advertised as a ‘free’ installation, the ESB smart meter rollout will incur an additional network charge for all customers, no matter if you have a smart meter or not. This will be the nominal amount of €5.50 a year added to your bill for the next 20 years.

  • No turning back - Once you decide to have a smart meter installed, there is not a change of mind policy. You cannot return to your old-style meter if you are not happy with these new modern ones.

  • Not fail-proof - Some smart meter customers in the UK have also reported issues with faulty meters contributing to an increase in their bills.

  • Dependent on phone signal - If you live in a remote area where the phone signal is low, your smart meter will not work efficiently.

  • Overestimated savings - An overestimate of the potential savings. As listed below, none of the best electricity offers in Ireland are with a smart meter tariff.

Do you get better rates with a smart meter? Even though smart meters in Ireland will help you save money on your bills, nothing will ever beat the savings you can have on your energy costs by switching suppliers each year. If you haven't changed suppliers in the past year, new customers are likely getting better rates than you are.

Cheapest Electricity Offer per Supplier
Supplier Best offer Price per year
Bright Energy Has stopped trading No longer available
Bord Gáis Energy 34% Discount €1,254.00
Community Power Standard €2,495.36
Ecopower 25% Discount €1,759.42
Electric Ireland 26% Discount €1,202.00
Energia 41% Discount €1,192.08
Flogas 40% Discount €1,156.28
Glowpower

Standard

€3,036.55
Iberdrola 26% Discount
€194 Cashback
€1,183.80
Panda Power 10%
€250 Cashback
€1,738.25
Pinergy Smart tariff €1,814.28
Prepay Power Time of day tariff €1,384.26
SSE Airtricity 33% Discount €1,214.19
Waterpower Standard €1,985.27
Compare the Energy Market Call  01 903 6528  Ad  Mon - Fri: 9 am - 6 pm

*Figures are for illustrative purposes only. Calculations based on average consumption figures for an urban home with a 24-hour standard meter. All discounts and cashback have been applied. Last updated: May 2022

Smart Meters in Ireland

electricity meter

Following Ireland’s decision to sign the Paris Agreement in 2015, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) announced the deployment of smart meters in Ireland in 2017 as part of its commitment to the National Climate Action Plan.

They had already tested electricity smart meters in Ireland and results showed an average reduction of electricity use of 3% in homes equipped with a smart meter and a reduction of 8% during peak times.

The €1.1 billion smart meter rollout programme was launched in 2019 and assigned to Ireland’s National Electricity Distributor, ESB Networks, for the smart meter installation.

Are smart meters compulsory in Ireland?

No! If you do not want to have your meter upgraded to a smart meter, you have the legal right to refuse one. To opt-out of getting a smart meter in Ireland, contact ESB Networks to let them know. You will need to provide your MPRN. You can find this 11-digit number on your electricity bill.

Keep in mind, you would miss out on the benefits a smart meter offers. There is also no guarantee that future smart meter installation requests will be free of cost, as is currently the case.

Can I opt-out of an ESB smart meter installation?

Customers who don’t wish to have a smart meter installed can opt-out but should know over time the only meters offered in Ireland will be smart meters. It will no longer be possible to swap out an existing meter for a traditional credit meter.

When are smart meters coming to my area?

To date, ESB Networks have already installed over 250,000 smart meters in Irish homes, businesses and farms. The company aims to complete all 2.4 million smart meter installations by the end of 2024.

ESB Networks is conducting the installation of smart meters on an area-by-area basis. The company will advise you in advance when they are in your area and commencing smart meter installation.

How to request a smart meter in Ireland?

To get an ESB smart meter installed, contact the distributor directly or your energy supplier. You can reach ESB Networks on 1800 928 123 or 01 698 5005. They are managing the installation of smart meters in Ireland.

The meter exchange requires a power outage of up to 45 minutes. ESB does the smart meter installation for free and will contact you before carrying out the work.

Which suppliers have smart meter plans?

To date, the following suppliers in Ireland have specific smart meter plans available:

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Could a smart meter help you save money on your energy bills?

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Is there an ESB Smart Meter App?

ESB Networks does not have an app for smart meters. The individual energy suppliers are the ones left with the development of their own app to work with the new ESB smart meters.

Common ESB Smart Meter Problems and Solutions

Even the latest technology tools are not fail-proof. We look at some common ESB smart meter problems and how to troubleshoot these issues below.

How do you read an ESB smart meter?

Every smart meter has a digital screen from which you can select the display option of your choice. Simply push the large black button on the left-hand side and scroll between display options.

Your cumulative meter reading should be the number displayed in the center of the digital screen.

Here is the information found from the default display:

  1. Shows the cumulative kWh usage for a 24-hour period
  2. Current time-of-use tariff (i.e. T1, T2, T3) for day, night, or peak tariff
  3. Meter signal strength
  4. Voltage and the direction of feed (import or export for those selling back energy produced from their solar panels, windmill, or another source).

To learn more about the other smart meter functionalities, watch this short video on ESB Networks smart meters:

How do I get emergency credit on a smart meter?

Warning! This question only applies to customers using their ESB smart meters on Pay As You Go (PAYG) function.

How to get the emergency credit activated on your smart meter will depend on your energy supplier. As an example, Prepay Power allows you to enable emergency credit from their app. The emergency credit activation button is on the home screen.

Let's hope your home has not already run out of credit on the meter and that your phone battery is dead!

I cannot read my smart meter monitor

Do not confuse smart meters with electricity monitors, or In-Home Display (IHD) monitors. Currently, we know of two electricity suppliers, Electric Ireland and Pinergy, who provide IHDs with their smart meter plans.

By looking at an electricity monitor, you'll be able to see how much energy you are consuming and how much you are spending, in near real-time. Roughly the size of a smartphone, you can place the device anywhere you like in your house. It doesn't have to be in the same location as the meter.

While you wait for your ESB smart meter installation, you could try out the Owl, Minim+ electricity appliance monitors, or consider smart thermostats. These will allow you to benefit from some of the smart meter features by assisting you to monitor your energy consumption.

What are the smart meter reviews?

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Ireland is not the only country installing smart meters to help with the fight against climate change. In fact, many countries have done so much earlier. Italy and Sweden were the first European countries to pioneer the nationwide deployment of smart meters, and Spain soon joined in with their efforts.

Our neighbours in the UK began their smart meter rollout in 2011, while the patent for this technology dates all the way back to 1974 in the U.S.!

Ireland is fortunate of having learned from the mistakes of these other countries. This is helping make this transition to smart meters rather smooth by comparison. Having also learned from its own failures with the 2011 attempt to install water smart meters, as am sure some of you will recall.

Globally, every year there are approximately 131 million smart meters installed. Experts expect the number to rise to 188 million units yearly by 2025.

In Europe alone, over 34.8 million units are to be installed by the end of 2021 - that is a mind-boggling 18% of all the EU’s households in a single year.

A smart meter can also measure water consumption or gas.

Newly installed gas meters in Ireland could easily be converted to a gas smart meter in the future, but the present rollout consists only of the electricity ESB smart meters.

You can read the latest Irish Examiner article for more smart meter reviews and opinions. When you consider the benefits of automatic meter readings, accurate billing and the ability to keep track of your energy spend and consumption in near-real-time, we'd say it's worth getting an ESB smart meter.

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