Like millions of prudent home owners, Angela Forman, 74, is very careful about how much energy she uses. Her house is on an “Economy 7” system, which takes separate electricity readings for day and night, when energy demand, and prices, are lower.
She puts her washing machine and immersion heater on at night, when electricity is 6p per kWh rather than 20p, for instance.
So when an engineer from her supplier, Utility Warehouse, knocked on her door in April with a new smart meter and promised that it would mean she no longer had to give monthly readings, she agreed to have it installed.
In May her bill came to £114, when for the past three years it had been around £94 a month over the summer. She called Utility Warehouse to check but was told the meter was working as it should. The following month her bill increased again, to £134, while the screen on the smart meter said “estimated”. After more phone calls the energy company admitted the meter wasn’t working properly and was indeed producing estimated readings.
She was told the problems were probably down to poor mobile phone reception.
Mrs Forman’s ordeal is being replicated across the country. Telegraph Money receives dozens of letters from readers infuriated by rising bills, indecipherable readings and a feeling that they are being forced to use technology they do not trust.
“I was told I wouldn’t have to do any more readings but the screen has just said ‘estimated’ the entire time,” Mrs Forman said. “I can’t believe it’s taken them two months to admit it wasn’t working. I’ve asked to switch back to a manual meter.”
A spokesman for Utility Warehouse said: “We’ll adjust the billing so that any usage we’ve billed on the General Domestic Tariff is rebilled on the Economy 7 Tariff so Mrs Forman is benefitting from the cheapest tariff.
“To reflect any inconvenience caused to Mrs Forman a goodwill credit of £30 has been added to her account. We will also arrange for a member of our Chief Executive’s Office to contact Mrs Forman to explain the changes that have been made to her account and to answer any further concerns she may have about smart meters.”