What your smart meter upgrade means for you

The ESB smart meter rollout is taking place across Ireland now, so whether you’re a homeowner or a business, you’ll get your new smart meter free of charge before 2024. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a smart meter?

It’s a device that measures how much electricity you use.

Smart meters differ from traditional meters because they use digital technology and give you real-time accurate information on your energy usage throughout the day.

Once you have a smart meter you won’t need to submit readings or have someone read your meter, and you’ll no longer get estimated meter readings.

How does smart metering work?

Smart meters contain a wireless transmitter, allowing you to see how much electricity you use, and when it’s used. Your smart meter will collect data on your electricity use every 30 minutes.

This information is also relayed to ESB Networks, who build and manage the networks, and your electricity supplier.

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What are the benefits of smart meters?

Smart meters have several advantages for homeowners, energy suppliers, and the environment.

The smart meter rollout in Ireland will:

  • help reduce bills by giving you more information and control over your energy use
  • make switching energy suppliers easier and faster
  • encourage you to plan your household consumption at times when electricity is cheaper
  • reduce your carbon footprint by empowering you to use less energy
  • allow for more Time of Use tariff options and choices for bill and prepay customers
  • take the guesswork out of your energy bills and help you budget more effectively
  • enable ESB Networks to find faults more quickly and run the network more efficiently
  • support the development of the smart grid with more flexible and better network planning
  • assist the move towards a greener, more sustainable network
  • support the use of electric vehicles and local renewable generation, like wind farms

What is a smart meter tariff?

Smart meter tariffs, or time of use tariffs, were introduced with the roll out of smart meters. They can help you save money by offering discounted rates during off peak electricity times or at night time.

A smart tariff typically consists of three periods charged at separate rates. For example:

  1. The ‘day’ period is from 8am to 11pm (but excludes ‘peak’)
  2. The ‘peak’ period is from 5pm to 7pm
  3. The ‘night’ period is from 11pm to 8am

The rates for customers during these periods are set by your energy supplier.

Off peak electricity times

Off peak electricity times are outside the period of 5pm-7pm. For those on smart tariffs, it’s when electricity is cheaper to use. If you’re on a smart tariff, you could save money by moving much of your electricity usage from day-time to between the hours of 11pm and 8am.

Before moving to a smart tariff, it’s a good idea to discuss the details with your supplier as you won’t be able to move back to a standard plan.

The ESB’s ‘Beat the Peak’ initiative aims to shift electricity usage away from peak times during winter months.

The scheme is part of a wider government campaign - Reduce Your Use - which aims to educate consumers on how to decrease their energy consumption.

Are all energy suppliers upgrading to smart meters?

Yes, ESB Networks is replacing meters for all customers free of charge, regardless of your electricity supplier. To check how your energy supplier is responding to the rollout, click below:

Compare Smart Plans

How to read your smart meter

Your smart meter provides more information than a standard meter and allows you to view your current tariff, time-of-use, energy usage and more.

Your smart meter has a screen with a number of displays that can be selected by pressing the left, unsealed push button to scroll between each one.

smart meter esb

Default display

  1. Shows the cumulative kWh reading for a 24-hour period
  2. Current time-of-use tariff (i.e T1, T2, T3) day, night and peak
  3. Meter connection status

Date/Time display: You can select the time/date screen by pressing the left button.

Cumulative kWh display: You can toggle between the total kWh used for time-of-use tariffs (T1, T2, T3) - day, night and peak - to see your energy usage patterns.

Other options: By pressing the left push button, you can scroll through a number of displays before returning to the default, cumulative display.

Find out more by watching this video from ESB Networks .

When are smart meters coming to your area?

As part of the National Climate Action Plan, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has tasked ESB Networks with the rollout of the National Smart Metering Programme for all of Ireland.

It’s a phased rollout so, on top of those upgraded during 2020, a further 500,000 smart meters are expected to be installed every year between now and 2024.

Work is being carried out on an area by area basis and has already started in the counties Dublin, Cork, Laois, Louth, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Limerick, Sligo, Leitrim, Carlow and Kilkenny. ESB plan to extend the roll out to new areas of Dublin and counties Clare, Donegal and Mayo in the coming months.

ESB Networks will be in contact when they reach your area, to let you know when your meter will be upgraded and whether you need to be present.

Do you have to get a smart meter installed?

No, smart meters are not compulsory. If you’d prefer not to have a smart meter you can refuse, although you’d miss out on all the benefits they offer.

To opt out of getting a smart meter, you need to contact the ESB Network and provide your MPRN .

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Smart meter FAQs

Are smart meters safe?

Yes. The ESB states your smart meter will be safe and will comply with all necessary requirements and international standards.

Smart meters use similar technology to your mobile phone. Health authorities globally, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have assessed the scientific evidence and there are no established health effects.

Can I get an early meter upgrade?

Possibly. You can apply to ESB Networks or contact your electricity supplier for a priority installation. You’ll need your 11-digit MPRN number to hand which can be found on your electricity supply bill.

Who will carry out the smart meter installation?

The replacement work will be carried out by either an ESB Networks technician or an electrical contractor working on behalf of ESB. All installers will carry a photo ID badge to identify themselves.

Will I have to pay for my smart meter upgrade?

No, all smart meter installations are free of charge.

How else can I save money on my energy bills?

We have a number of useful guides to help you cut your energy costs. See our Top energy savings tips for ways to use less energy in the home.

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, our guide What help can you get paying your energy bills? provides helpful advice.

You may also want to try our free energy comparison tool to see if you could make savings by switching your supplier.