- How we make sure smart meter installs run smoothly
- What happens during a comprehensive safety check?
- The simplicity of using smart meters
If you’re due to have your old gas and electricity meters upgraded to smart meters with British Gas or Scottish Gas, rest assured, you’re in good hands. Its squad of Smart Energy Experts make sure all smart meter installations are carried out safely. They really know their stuff. To find out more about how they make this happen, we spoke to an expert.
Simon Jackson has been a Scottish Gas Smart Energy Expert for three years, working around Perth in Scotland. He deals specifically with smart meter installs, as part of Scottish Gas’ national roll-out. Here, he reveals the essential safety checks required for smart meter installation and answers some common customer questions.
How long do Scottish Gas engineers train for?
Simon: “The training phase lasts about six months, where you learn your gas and electric basic qualifications, and then you spend six months with a mentor, shadowing them. We’re trained at one of the Scottish Gas Learning Centres, which are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.”
“It was pretty intense and challenging – the quality of what we studied was really good. You move from gas one week to electricity the next week, constantly learning. We would be trained in one aspect of a certain skill and then bounce to the next aspect of it in the afternoon."
“There are quite a few qualifications and tests you need to pass. After 52 weeks, the trainee engineers go back in for a test and an interview process to be assessed, making sure that they fully understand everything.”
Once you qualify at one of the Scottish Gas Learning Centres – which are rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted – what happens next?
“Once you qualify and pass your exams, you’re out and about with a mentor for six months. You’re constantly being evaluated, with your knowledge being put to the test and your standards always being looked at."
“Gradually, as go through your assessment, you reach a point where Scottish Gas is confident enough that you’re qualified to be out on your own. You’re also tested after you’ve completed your first job to make sure all is fine – it’s just another level of quality assurance."
“The first time I went out on my own I absolutely loved it – like I’d achieved a milestone. I felt confident enough with the knowledge I had. But if there were ever any issues we could always able to pick up the phone to speak to our mentor or our team members. Although you’re on your own, you’re not on your own, if that makes sense.”
How do you ensure smart meter installations are safe?
“Smart meter installations are about risk assessment skills, your basic tests and checks and knowledge levels. For us, customer safety is paramount – it’s the main priority. As soon as we walk into the property we’ll do a thorough safety check – we check for the safety of radiators, we check around the boiler, test appliances, test ventilation for fires, cookers, operational stuff. With the electricity, from the cut-out (where your mains supply comes in) right the way to the fuse box, we’ll walk the system with our fingers, using mirrors and torches. Also, the safety check is constantly evolving. For example, if you’re outside changing an electric meter and it starts to rain – water and electricity are not a good mix – you need to assess the risk and perhaps wait until the weather gets better."
So, a safety check must be very thorough. That goes together with good knowledge?
“We might be in a property where the customer hasn’t had anyone looking at their gas or electricity for 10 or 20 years. Standards have changed and the electrical wiring that they have will be outdated, so we need to have a look and let the customer know. Anything we pick up on our assessment, old or damaged, we’ll replace it or report it to the distribution network. If it’s something the customer is responsible for, then we let them know that the cables need updating for safety."
“We need to be knowledgeable for this. For the most part, we learn all the unsafe situations in training – the extremes – but, obviously, nothing replaces real-world experience. You’ve got to be knowledgeable to be able to spot that something isn’t wired up the way it should be or if an appliance is older.”
What would you say to customers who are unsure about a smart meter installation?
“A lot of the questions we get asked by customers during smart meter installs are about technology – the benefits of them, how they can help save them money, how to use the smart energy monitor. I guess it's new technology to some – there are a lot of older customers we visit who aren’t as familiar with touch screen technology. It’s about showing them and reassuring them that it’s not as complex as they think, and how it’s going to benefit them."
“We reassure our customers that we’ve fitted millions of smart meters. The safety processes we undertake at Scottish Gas are exceptional – the training we do is extremely rigorous and to a very high standard When it comes to smart meters, you’re in safe hands with Scottish Gas.”
Want to find out if your home is ready for smart meters? Find out about smart meter installations now.