Do you have a faulty smart meter?

Author: Nick Coleman

Published on: 4 May 2021

We are a small church on the Sandringham Estate. We don’t have fridges or micro wave ovens, just the overhead lights and two radiators to supply a modest amount of heat in the South Chapel for winter services.

Last October we were persuaded by our electricity supplier, E.ON, to install a smart meter. We were told that the meter would be monitored remotely and our direct debit would be adjusted accordingly. The Smart meter is on the wall in the Vestry about 12 inches from the fuse box.

On the 24 March the church was shut: all plugs were detached and no lights were left on.

Shortly after the 9 June (still locked down) we received a large electricity bill.

Read remotely our meter informed E.ON that between 9 March and the 9 June we had ‘used’ 209 kilowatt hours of electricity amounting to a bill of £47.84. Naturally we were somewhat surprised. We could not account for use between the 9 March and the start of lock down (a period of about two weeks when there were no services) but we knew perfectly well no electricity had been used between the day we closed the church, at the end of March, and the 9 June.

Having received the bill and to make absolutely sure it was not us at fault I turned the RDC switch off at the fuse box (isolating the church from the meter) and recorded the figures on the meter.

A week later the meter showed that the church was still ‘using’ 1 kilowatt hours per day.

I made several telephone calls to E.ON. I was met by a succession of employees who expressed disbelief and refused to accept my word. Eventually I was asked to send photographs to show that the meter had been isolated. They then watched the meter recording our ‘use’ when the RDC had isolated the adjacent fuse box. It was then accepted that the meter was not working properly and had to be replaced.

An engineer attended to install another isolating switch between the meter. A conversation with the engineer revealed that “some meters” had been installed which were known to be faulty and the engineer who had installed our meter should have checked our meter at the point of installation. E.ON have accepted that the meter is faulty and it has now been replaced. I am negotiating a settlement.

The lesson for all Churchwardens and all those responsible for church electricity supply is this: isolate the meter by turning off the supply to the church and check to see if the meter is not still registering the fact that you are ‘using’ electricity. You may be paying for electricity you have not ‘used’.

The author...

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Nick Coleman

Churchwarden, Anmer (Parish)

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