Research commissioned by consumer group Which? has found more than half of people are having issues with interoperability with their smart meter when they switch supplier.
Almost six in ten (58 per cent) of those surveyed said either their smart meter, their in-home display, or both stopped working when they switched provider.
So far more than 13.5 million smart meters have been installed, the vast majority of these being first-generation (SMETS1) devices – devices which have been known to suffer from interoperability issues before they are migrated onto the Data Communication Company’s (DCC) system.
Which?’s survey found only 42 per cent of energy customers who have tried to change supplier after getting a smart meter said they were able to switch without any problems.
Meanwhile 32 per cent who switched after getting a smart meter said their new supplier replaced their smart meter – but Which? says it has received reports of energy customers whose replacement device also stopped working.
Which?’s survey also found that a third (34 per cent) of people said their energy consumption had gone down since getting a smart meter.
However, one in five thought that their usage had increased since having a device fitted.
Not all responses were negative.
More than seven in ten (72 per cent) of those with a smart meter rated their supplier good or excellent at helping them understand and reduce their energy use, compared with just over three in five (63 per cent) of those without smart meters.
Sarah Threadgould, Which? chief customer officer, said: “Consumers need reassurance that the smart meter rollout will bring greater convenience and a fairer energy market – not just hassle and soaring costs funded by their bills.
“The government needs to outline clear solutions for millions of people stuck with smart meters that risk cutting them out of the benefits of being able to monitor their energy use and use this information to switch to a better deal.
“For now, our advice is for energy customers with a first-generation meter not to be discouraged from switching, as they could still save money, despite the risk of their meter going ‘dumb’.”
Meanwhile Robert Cheesewright, director of corporate affairs at Smart Energy GB, said:“We share the frustrations of consumers when it comes to losing their smart service, but we are well on the way to solving those issues.
“The SMETS1 end date is now just over a week away and over half a million SMETS 2 meters have been installed, putting us a step nearer to a greener and more affordable energy system.”
The DCC is responsible for migrating first-generation smart meters onto its network to ensure full functionality.
Earlier this week the DCC announced it signed a commercial agreement which paves the way for more than four million SMETS1 meters to be migrated onto its system from the end of September.
This agreement, which was reached with meter company Secure SMSO Ltd, affects 32 per cent of the first-generation smart meter population.