Millions of UK households are missing out on the benefits of a smart meter because of faults or poor service from suppliers, Citizens Advice has warned.

Smart Meters are now installed in more than half of British homes, but people are being let down by suppliers who are “nowhere to be found” when faults occur, the consumer charity has warned.

Citizens Advice is calling on new rules to ensure problems with smart meters are identified and fixed as quickly as possible.

Current rules allow suppliers to “back bill” customers for an entire year, whether they have a smart meter or not, resulting in hefty catch-up bills, with some customers facing shock bills of £1,000 and upwards.

The charity is calling on that period to be cut to six months.

A quarter of people who asked Citizens Advice for help with smart meter issues had billing problems.

It wants suppliers to be forced to meet new Guaranteed Standards of Performance, which would ensure timely diagnosis of issues and repairs, with affected consumers automatically compensated if these were not met.

Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “The whole point of smart meters is to empower households to save energy and money, but in reality millions are missing out on those benefits due to problems with technology and poor supplier service.

“Energy companies are very keen for customers to get a smart meter but when issues arise they are often nowhere to be found. That has to change.

“Suppliers have been far too sluggish in fixing issues with problem meters.

“New obligations and stronger accountability measures are needed to restore public trust in this vital tool to reach net zero.”

A Smart Energy GB spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of smart meters are operating as they should and it’s good to see this report highlight that most smart meter owners are happy with them, benefiting from the ability to better manage their energy use and access smart products and more flexible energy tariffs.

“However, if you’re among the minority with a smart meter that isn’t currently sending readings automatically to your supplier then we understand this can be frustrating.

“Please be assured that if your meter isn’t currently sending readings automatically, it should still be recording your energy use and your energy won’t cost you more.

“We would recommend that you contact your supplier if you experience an issue with your smart meter and send them regular meter readings to make sure you receive accurate, rather than estimated, bills until all of the features of your smart meter have been restored.”

An Ofgem spokeswoman said: “While the majority of smart meters are working correctly, we’ve asked suppliers to provide us with more detail on how they plan to tackle connectivity issues.

“Suppliers are responsible for making sure their customers’ smart meters operate correctly, and we expect them to communicate with their customers clearly if there are any issues with their smart meter.”