Accessible smart meters are now available from selected suppliers

Post date: 
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Smart meter with accessible in-home display

Blind and partially sighted people can now request a smart meter with an accessible in-home display (AIHD) unit to be installed in your home, making it simpler for you to manage your energy usage. 

RNIB, Energy UK (the trade association for the GB energy industry) and geo (a leading energy technology business) have announced that energy consumers can now request an Accessible In-Home Energy Display, which includes additional accessibility features, as part of their smart metering installation. The new displays can requested from a number of suppliers including Bristol Energy, EDF Energy, E.ON Energy, npower, Pure Planet and Shell Energy.

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are often described as the next generation of meters, because they work in a cleverer and more intuitive way than today's standard gas and electricity meters. It's a bit like the difference between an ordinary phone and a smartphone. The government have tasked energy companies with rolling out smart meters to all homes they provide energy to.

What are the benefits of a smart meter?

Smart meters come with an in-home display (IHD) unit and will show you how much energy you’re using in real time and how much it's costing you. Smart meter also sends energy usage data to your chosen energy company, meaning you will:

  • no longer need to let meter readers into your house or provide a meter reading to your supplier
  • receive bills based on actual rather than estimated meter readings.

Smart meters with accessible in-home displays (AIHDs)

An AIHD has all the features of a regular smart meter in-home display unit, with the addition of accessibility features such as:

  • text-to-speech function for screen navigation
  • adjustable volume for the text-to-speech function
  • six large printed buttons with vibration that confirms a button has been pressed
  • three coloured LEDs for indicating electricity usage
  • LED push button to replay speech
  • Large crisp typeface
  • TFT screen with a high contrast colour scheme optimised for visual impairment and colour blindness.

How much does it cost?

There is no cost to customers for the initial smart meter with an AIHD; the energy suppliers will bear the cost of these. 

How can I get one?

While the accessible smart meter are available now from selected suppliers, different suppliers have different roll out plans, and may not be installing smart meters in your area right now. 

If you or a family member have sight loss or other accessibility needs, contact your energy supplier to discuss the available options. Your supplier will be able to provide further information on smart meters, including the accessible in-home display. Alternatively, speak to your supplier about accessibility options when they contact you about installing a smart meter.

You can find out more about smart metres by visiting the Smart Energy website.

RNIB Tried and Tested

RNIB has accredited the manufacture geo with RNIB Tried and Tested, certifying that the AIHD meets the minimum accessibility requirements for blind and partially sighted people to be able to use this display. 

John Worsfold, RNIB Implementation Manager said: 

'We are delighted that this initiative has resulted in suppliers being able to support blind and partially sighted customers to experience the benefits that smart meters can offer.'

Give us your feedback

Have you contacted your supplier about accessible smart meters? Whether your experience was positive or negative, please tell us about it by contacting our Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

Your feedback will enable us to better monitor and support the rollout of the AIHD and help suppliers to improve their services to people with sight loss.