/ Home & Energy

Is my smart meter spying on me?

Eye spying through a hole

We have to rely on the government to look after our personal data. But would we trust companies with it too? With the roll-out of smart meters we could be giving our utility companies some extremely sensitive data.

We may have mixed views on what we want to tell the government, but in general our views on private companies holding personal data are pretty clear: we don’t like it.

And yet with the installation of millions of smart meters across the UK, we could be letting utility companies collect sensitive personal data on a half-hourly basis.

What do they know about me?

Currently, smart meters send gas and electricity readings direct to your supplier, and can also give you information that will help you lower your energy use. A great idea, and it stops the faff of having to wait around for someone to read your meter.

So presumably companies will take a reading once a month or so to keep your bill up-to-date, right? Wrong. Most companies will take half-hourly readings from your smart meter, to give almost real-time information about your energy use.

When the full roll-out happens it’ll be slightly different. Your data will be sent to a third party rather than to the company, but for now your utility company’s collecting the information.

Why is this a problem?

If I know, every 30 minutes, what energy you’re using I can tell quite a lot about your life. I know if you’re a night-shift worker, how often you go out on a Saturday and when you go on holiday.

I can also make educated guesses on more detailed things such as whether your boiler is inefficient, or whether you have an old washing machine that needs replacing.

As a company, this can translate into handy marketing messages: ‘Boiler getting old? Call us for a free consultation and we’ll help you choose a new one.’ Or: ‘You’re on holiday a lot – can we interest you in an alarm system?’

I want to choose!

So what is being done about it? Ofgem is trying to tighten up the rules by providing guidelines on how this data can be used, and we’ve sent them our suggestions to make sure consumers have choice in the matter.

But the main problem is that some energy companies have started rolling out smart meters without thinking about this issue. While the government and Ofgem are deciding how best to roll out, industry appears to be making a mass data grab while they can. Most customers haven’t been given a say in how much information the utility company collects, let alone what it’s used for.

We want to find out what you think about this, so we can make sure that the message we’re taking to companies is the right one.

Have you got a smart meter? Were you informed about the data implications before yours was installed? Were you given a choice? And most importantly – are you worried about companies collecting such detailed information about your habits and lifestyle?

Comments
S.Miller says:
5 May 2011

I see that two of my posts which included very informative links showing the adverse health effects of Smart Meters and real life people’s reaction to them have been deleted. In response to Jo Gibney suggesting that TV and radios emit pulsed microwave radiation in the same way that cellphones, phone masts, wifi, wii games and baby monitors do is utter rubbish. Swiss Telecom has made a public announcement that it will install free fibre optic broadband in every school in Switzerland with the condition that there is NO WIFI and all computers are HARD WIRED to routers with no wifi emissions. The French govt. is pulling wifi out of every school in their country at great cost because they are adopting the precautionary principle in response to many real life adverse health reactions. When is the UK going to lift its head from the sand of ignorance in the same way that many European countries have already done so? The ICNIRP guidelines are obsolete, please consult the Bio Initiative Report.

Hi there, we are happy for commenters to provide links in their posts, but we prefer them to have some context to the comment – and some greater explanation if possible. Lots of comments containing only links don’t really add a strong contribution to the discussion. If you’d like to resubmit with more context/opinion in your comment we’ll reconsider. Thanks.

I think we should all recognise the aims and ambitions of politicians and energy companies in this Smart Meter argument. The inderlying problem is that the popular environmentalists focus is concentrated on renewables etc and no politician is going to risk his/her furure by decrying wind-farms and PV panels. Vast investments and subsidies are going into these industries, the money for which will come from an effectctive tax on our energy bills.
The underlying problem is that most of the renewables are uncontrollable as far as the national grid is concerned. If you want to find out more do a Google on ‘Smart Grid’ to find out the plans and proposals. The big gap in our energy technology is storage.
One ‘carbon reduction focus’ is aimed at electric cars. For the electric car to have any reasonable use they will have to be rapidly refuled (just like wot petrol does at the moment) or we must have on-board storage. So, when we all have electric cars in our garages being re-charged overnight at cheap rates, then smart meters will get smarter and be able to charge up the cars when there is an adequate supply of power in the grid. However, when the grid runs short ( no sun or a great big anticyclone hovers over us and no wind blows for a few hours or more) then these super-smart meters will be able to extract energy from those with some surplus in their car and keep the rest of us supplied with a nice smooth 50Hz supply.
The cost of this new smart-grid (the current one will not be able to do it without large transmission losses) with a superimposed DC grid and DC/AC converters and all our pre-installed smart meters controlling us, will have to be paid for in advance if we wish to keep our deep-freezes healthy and arc-furnaces molten! An alternative that I have become aware of is the decreasing cost of domestic stand-by power supplies with battery storage and capable of delivering one to two kW to keep our central heating gas central heating running.
Don’t trust politicians with their ‘interested’ technical advisers to look after consumer interests.

Barry Murfett says:
9 May 2011

I have had smart meters fitted by OnStream on behalf of First Utility on 15 February. Since that time I have not received any bills for Gas (electric OK). E-mails ignored, after half an hour on hold I was assured I would receive a bill for gas usage in May, and provisions could be made for spreading the cost of this potemtially large bill, as yet no bill. Logged onto web site and gas usage is being displayed

I don’t want smart meters – in the same way I did not like the proposed selling off of our forests – A campaign stopped the selling off – a campaign to refuse smart meters could have similar effect.

I have low level bulbs – no light is on if I am not in the room.- thermostats on all radiators and in rooms set to turn off at 60 degrees – boiler just on two hours a day (one morning one afternoon) – This ALREADY keeps my bills to a minimum – I inform companies by Internet on monthly consumption – My computer use is by cable as it stops hackers hacking the wireless transmissions. and keeps radiation down I have full double glazing and insulation.

It is a total doddle to see (it is too simple to call it calculate ) my consumption in gas and electricity by the monthly reading. Why the devil would I need a smart meter for – I’m certainly smarter than a smart meter.

This is yet another con. I am not convinced that any room style transmitters are indeed ‘completely safe’ – it depends entirely on the power and wavelength used – will they use one power setting so that those nearest the receiving aerial will be unnecessarily saturated by radiation – or for those far away will have very large powerful transmitters showering the occupants with high levels of radiation (after all there are many areas where mobile phones are still not powerful enough to communicate properly . There is no real long term research on effects of mobile phones to reach a definitive conclusion – It needs to be life time length – not “oh we haven’t had many diseases directly attributed to mobiles YET”. The real universal use of mobiles is too recent to draw definitive conclusions. Reminds me of Thalidomide. Perfectly “safe” until the defects appeared.

d.andrew says:
17 May 2011

It worries that smart meters are compulsory. Does that mean we cannot refuse to use them?
Whatever anybody says I know I feel ill when I use a mobile phone, and the smart meters appear to emit microwaves of the same frequency, only you cannot turn them off!
I fear that with increasing use so the people who become electrosesitive will also increase as smart meter installation will be an exponential factor in microwave pollution.
This does not bid well for the future – watch depression, suicides and violent crime increase. I remember when ‘anger management’ was not in English usage.
Everyday I read column inches in newspapers about people suffering from stress and anxiety – one article in The Times recently admitted that the writer even worried about being anxious! She said she was anxious for no good reason – the microwaves that she is immersed in all day may have something to do with it.
We are making our lives miserable by ignoring the ill effects of all this microwave technologies and we continue to find more uses, like an addict causing self inflicted injuries!

J Lewis says:
20 May 2011

I think the ability to understand your energy usage is useful to allow consumers to reduce our usage. Installation of smart meters will save energy companies money and so is presumably a good reason for them to invest money in them. Unlikely the consumer will see reduction in bills because of them.

I don’t have wifi on in the home all the time because I like to reduce the risk of hacking etc.

Although companies have a duty to adhere to data protection law and keep data secure this is not possible to guarantee as evidenced by publicised data leaks and loss. Data can also be misused.

I have seen two mentions in the press over the last year or 2 about smart meters making it possible to ‘change demand’ ie stopping or reducing supplies to consumers. The latest being in the Daily Mail 9 Jan 2011 at the end of an article on wind farms “Customers face huge bill for wind farns that don’t work in the cold’. However I have not seen this aspect highlighted or mentioned by Which. I beleive the consumer should be given all the facts with regard to new technology expecially where there is a compulsory aspect to it.

chazzi says:
2 June 2011

Definately NOT!
I’m sensibile enough to know when to conserve the energy in MY home and want my privicy, what’s left of it, respected.
Big brother watching..Iv’e had enough with the nanny state we’re in.

Mike says:
5 July 2011

Previous experience, when changing my energy supplier, caused me much concern as my original supplier got all its readings wrong – hence stupid charges. Fortunately, I always read my Gas & Electricity meters between 08-00 & 08-30 each Monday morning. This meant that I could successfuly challenge the charges. I would hope that these Smart meters would display the units/KWh accumulation so that I can carry on reading my required information every Monday so as to be sure that I know what my bill should be. Without this facility I would expect to find that I am being subjected to fraudulant practicesby the supplier.
As far as data security is cocerned the legal situation is that noone should distribute any data about you or what you do and must , in writing, ask your approval or objection. It would be useful if ‘WHICH’ could produce a sample letter that anyone can use to refuse permission for release of any data obtained via a Smart Meter.
I would suggest that, if anyone has not yet nstarted to record the meter readings like I do ,each week, they start now and build up a record because when a Smart Meter is installed you will presumably get something like a ‘final billing’ for the old system and if you don’t have a record then you may find that you get stung!!

Alan says:
31 July 2011

I had one of these gas meters installed under the guise of a battery replacement 6 weeks ago…it was only after this dam thing has broken down 4 times in the last week I have found out its a smart meter. When I asked about my credit going back onto my replacement meter he said it is done by “phone” to my meter. I have not given these guys the right to hack my phone as I see it and send data to them in this manor. This is outragous!!

I am really concerned about the installation of smart meters. I don’t believe the government or the power companies’ arguments for us having them, I think consumers will inevitably end up worse off and the implications for invasion of privacy are terrifying. I am also concerned about the potential for health risks. The government actually says mobile phones shouldn’t be used by children (!) but few people know that. It seems to me that the wifi infrastructure that will be created by this roll out will be similar to the situation with chemicals in the environment – maybe one additive in one food won’t harm you but by the time you add up ALL the additives, preservatives, pesticides etc in all the food groups there is a huge, unacknowledged health burden.
I have known for many years that I am sensitive to mobile phones, we don’t have wifi in our house because the whole family suffered headaches and nausea when we tried it. I wonder if I am going to have to live in a tent in the garden in future – or emigrate to a distant Scottish island.
At the very least, we need a campaign to force the government and the energy companies to allow an opt out. There seem to be campaigns in other countries, notably in the US/California. Maybe I should start one!

SaraJayne says:
30 September 2011

To answer the questions posed, I don’t have a smart meter yet, and I have huge issues with the half-hourly data grabbing described. Falling into the wrong hands, that’s great information for burglars. Moreover, there’s no sense in them having all that information – and they’ll have to pay to store it, which will only mean higher bills for us.

Tangentially, I’ve just had a thought regarding these smart meters, related to this article: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2011/09/one-in-four-consumers-live-in-fear-of-their-bills-266688/ . Why can’t the smart meters work both ways? Why can’t they link into just enough of our account information to show us how much our balance is each time it updates? The energy companies should really already be set up to know how much we owe them given a meter reading; why not make the meters so they display that information, and then we can see day to day or week to week or however often it updates, exactly how much we owe or are owed? Much of the technology should already exist inside prepaid meters, I imagine.

The ridiculous state of affairs we have here with only getting a bill every six months (or seven and counting, currently, for me) is surely causing a lot of this energy bill anxiousness and stress; take away the huge time gaps in knowing how we stand with the energy companies, and it’ll alleviate a great deal of the stress.

B.Kogan says:
31 October 2011

I do not want a Smart Meter.
I do not want to see the cost of the gas I use every moment of the day. It is less depressing to find out when the bill arrives and to do one’s best to be careful with the consumption on a daily basis.
I have received a letter announcing a meter change quoting for accuracy and safety reason.
Do they mean the meter I now have is not safe?
There is no mention of a Smart Meter on the letter.
They previously made two appointments and did not turn up. I received £25 compensation.
I do not want damage to my property as per previously experienced when a new meter was fitted as well as the gas pipes renewed.

BLOCKHEADS says:
12 December 2011

I think it is a big con to help energy companies to reduce their carbon emissions who gives a f**k about the climate anyway you cannot do anything to stop it we will be back to the ice age soon what does it matter what energy you use if youre going to pay the bill the energy companies will not pay it for you thats why they keep increasing the prices cos they want everyone to reduce there consumption f**k it i say you have to keep warm so use it thats what it is there for smart meters are shit.

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NOTOSMARTMETER says:
5 June 2014

Electricity smart meters are a CON!! they are plugged in to the mains 24/7 365 days a year, it is like having a TV set on standby 365 days a year!! NOWHERE is this mentioned on Energy suppliers websites!! the Gas Smart meter runs off a battery to communicate wirelessly. BEWARE!!! REFUSE a smart meter!! it’s your legal right to refuse it!!

Apparently, not when you buy a new house it isn’t; an electricity smart meter will be installed by whichever electricity supply company is contracted by the housebuilder to provide a supply to each property in advance of sale. You probably have the legal right to have it removed and replaced with a dumb meter at your own expense but that probably would not make financial sense given the minimal running cost of an electricity meter.

G Price says:
2 December 2017

I think this is once again a big brother idea, being missold as a way of improving service. How does a smart meter save you money? It doesn’t tell you, you have left the cooker or a light on. You are more likely to see the glow from a left on light, than happen to look at your meter and notice your usage is high. Plus you have to plug the meter display in. So you are actually using more electricity to run the meter display!! Also if it’s dark I need the light on, regardless of cost. If it’s bright enough to do without a light then I don’t turn the light on, having a smart meter in no way effects that decision.
Once again we are seeing our privacy and freedoms being eroded by the back door. With policies being implemented without the people or Parliament, even having the chance to discuss the issue. History should have taught us by now that any advance in technology. is open to misuse, and at some point will be!!

G.Price -The positives are weighed heavily in the balance on the energy companies side . Its a saving money exercise , the ability to change your chargeable rate , if you check-how often does it go down ? Some say you wont be cut-off but the potential is always there and as you say if its Wi-Fi it can be intercepted and checked to see if you are active in the home, even the “great” FBI put out a statement saying they can be hacked a US Electric Utility company admitted they have lost $ millions in a year from being hacked . America has much more experience in this as they deployed them long before this country .Money making first before public security.

You raise an interesting point, G Price. I wonder how we did become hooked on a policy to install smart meters at enormous expense and questionable utility. Did it come from Ofgem? Were they hoodwinked by the energy industry into pushing for smart meters? How did the government come to impose this burden on millions of consumers? – I don’t recall it being mentioned in Parliament. Which Minister authorised it? Was it one of the Coalition’s odd ventures? It now comes under the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [BEIS] which, unsurprisingly, is very upbeat about them on its website. It says “Smart meters put consumers in control of their energy use, allowing them to adopt energy efficiency measures that can help save money on their energy bills and offset price increases“, which is not untrue but ignores the fact that most consumers can do those things adequately without a smart meter. And if that’s the best that can be said about them it does suggest they are a solution looking for a problem.

I haven’t seen those appalling cartoon characters Buzz and Leccy lately on TV commercials for smart meters: have they been consigned to the dustbin of bad promotions? The energy companies themselves seem to be more concerned with getting us to have a smart heating controller [for £20 a month!] that we can use to change the settings remotely and pep the heating up if the weather turns bad on the way home. I won’t be getting one because it would have no value to us but I can see the appeal of this device and think the energy companies will make more money out of that than any savings they make from smart meters. They are under an obligation to offer smart meters to everyone by 2020 but I think they are already seeing diminishing returns from their efforts and will scale back their activity levels now that the initial surge has been satisfied and demand wanes.

Just think what £11 billion could have achieved in the care home and domiciliary services sectors, plus leaving some over for the NHS!

After switching energy supplier I had new gas and electricity smart meters fitted and was supplied with a new display unit. This is because there is not a common standard for meters and the person who did the job said that the problem had not yet been resolved. I suspect that the estimated cost of the smart meter roll out may have been significantly underestimated.

The engineer also told me that he regularly discovered cases of people stealing energy by bypassing meters and he had found one case earlier that day. He said that smart meters would help the companies to detect fraud. That’s not one of the commercial advantages of having a smart meter that I would have thought about, but with meter readers no longer needing to visit regularly because customers are supplying their own readings, it will be easier for opportunists to steal energy. It’s hardly surprising that the companies are not publicising this benefit to them.

A meter reader called on us recently. Checking for unauthorised connexions around the electricity meter is an important function and smart meters will make it easier to identify possible cases of illegal abstraction. However, I predict that those who bypass their meter are likely to be disinclined to have a smart meter fitted. Only when the roll-out gets near to 100% [if ever] will it be worth sending an inspector to every household without one to find out why not.

Looking at the website of Energy UK [the trade association for the UK’s energy industry] I was somewhat surprised to read the following : “Smart meters are being installed in every home in Great Britain between now and 2020. Your energy supplier will tell you when they plan to install your smart meter between now and then“, At least the government’s ‘Smart Meters: A Guide’ website has the decency to explain, eventually, that “smart meters will be rolled out as standard across the country by the end of 2020. But there is no legal obligation on individuals to have one.

The Energy UK website goes on to say that “the Government is overseeing the rollout of smart meters and has set out the rules for the management and use of data collected from your smart meters. Your energy supplier will continue to hold your personal details on your account“. This could be more informative and less economical in explanation of what data will be held and how consumers can manage it; this is set out later on but digging out the detail is laborious.

I do hope that smart meters will make it harder for customers to steal energy. I don’t watch commercial TV, so do not know if customers are told that there is no obligation to have a smart meter. I have not seen this in other advertising. It’s good that meters are still being inspected, John, but I cannot remember when I last had a visit from a meter reader.

One of the benefits cited for having a smart meter is accurate billing. For example, Ofgem states: “Your energy company, and the energy networks, can access appropriate data to enable them to send you accurate bills and carry out other essential tasks.” After more than a year with e.on and a smart meter I believe that the bills were accurate but they kept my account well in credit, just like they had done in my previous home, which did not have a smart meter. At least I have now had a full refund.

Not only have many smart meters that are incompatible with other suppliers been fitted but apparently this is still happening, though this would change soon. I don’t know if my new meters are the new ones or ones that could lose functionality if I change supplier in future.

I’m beginning to wonder if the technology in smart meters will be about as reliable and long lasting as the technology in smart TVs.

I have a friend who has Utilita smart meters as part of a pre-payment tariff.

In theory, top-ups made in-store or on-line are automatically credited to these meters, sparing folk from the traditional frantic search for the meter keys, each time a top-up is needed.

In practice, that facility now seldom works, so top-up codes have to be keyed, either via the very tiny keypad on each meter front panel, or via the touchscreen wifi “tablet” display unit.

In a previous post I mistakenly referred to the appalling cartoon characters “Buzz and Leccy”. I meant “Gaz and Leccy”. No one has corrected me which shows what little impression they have made; either that or nobody is willing to admit to having seen the smart meter adverts.

Concentrate, Ward.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuF_JtBaofg It’s a bit misleading to say that there is no extra cost of having smart meters installed.

I can see they mean “as a zero cost option for bill payers”.

Nonetheless, I doubt that manufacturers supply the meters free of charge, or that the meters are installed by unpaid volunteers.

The cost of the roll out – which is shared by all customers, whether or not they have smart meters – has been well publicised. I wonder if this includes the cost of replacing incompatible ones. It’s common sense to set a standard beforehand, if necessary after carrying out some trial installations in one part of the country.

The problem with the huge cost of this programme is that it is falling on all consumers regardless of whether or not they will have them installed. Many poorer and older consumers will probably not bother with smart meters and devices even though they could potentially benefit from having better knowledge of their consumption; however, as G Price says above, they are possibly using their energy in the most economical manner possible in their circumstances, and whether to have a light on or the heating running is not a matter of choice but necessity. For such consumers the levies on energy bills that are paying for the roll-out of smart meters will bear more heavily on them than on others so it is a regressive form of tax.

In many cases such consumers are also deprived of the opportunity to make additional savings because they are not in a position to elect for paperless billing. When savings for the many add hardship to the few and most vulnerable I am not sure we have got the balance right. Do we really need a discount for paperless billing? For many of us it is a convenience worth having in its own right.

Presumably it is necessary to have a separate monitoring device for each meter, gas and electricity.

Does there need to be an electricity supply to the gas meter in order to install a smart meter? Without some difficult wiring there is no electricity supply anywhere near our gas meter which is on the front of the house, all the internal gas pipes are concealed within the structure, and the electricity meter is some distance away in the garage. Perhaps if they are battery driven someone will have to come round once a year to change the battery.

On the question of data control, I can see no reason to store the consumption profile data for more than a short period after the bill has been produced. Production of the bill only needs the aggregate consumption figures for the different tariff rates for the specific billing period. There should be no opportunity provided to enable an external party to develop a household’s activity or occupation profile. Certainly no marketing should be generated off the back of the half-hourly meter readings. Concern over that contingency would put many people off from having smart meters installed so it would be good to air it publicly.

Strange as it may seem John using a trial browser I got the answer to your question even Wavechange would be proud of . I have af TI designs -Solution for Battery Operated Meters with -30dBm -wM-bus at 169Mhz —in France+Italy . Notice the 30dBm range that’s the point a battery when on transmit uses much more power than a display , some meters transmit half-hourly some longer , it depends on the make /design and your energy company policy and your Wi-Fi reception . by the way , in relation to refusal of “smart-meters ” in the USA I notice a statement from several US Utilities that if yo REFUSE a “smart=-meter ” you will have to pay increased charges , that’s right , no I never picked it up wrong its in black+white. yes you can get battery operated meters , its the word “can ” that counts . Does your company provide them John ?

John – A smart gas meter contains a battery and I understand that it will let the company know if it needs replacement and display a message to let the customer know. I do think poorer and older customers could benefit from smart meters because they show the amount of fuel used, removing the uncertainty of how much a forthcoming bill could be. My previous display unit showed the charges excluding the standing charge, whereas the new one includes these charges. Prior to smart meters you either had to have prepayment meters or able to read (not always easy, depending on where meters are sited) and calculate consumption to be able to keep an eye on consumption.

Thank you, Duncan. I long since ceased to regard as strange anything you report from your global cyber monitoring station international headquarters centre [like GCHQ only bigger] and your panoptical browser arrays, and you beat Wavechange to the answer by nearly three hours so I am duly impressed.

Our gas meter is a quaint box-like apparatus with rounded corners and pipes going in and out with one going into the house. It lives in a little box surrounded by leaves, cobwebs, spiders and other interesting creatures which I vacuum out from time to time. I have to get down on my hands and knees to read it while propping the lid up with a stick that I have fashioned out of an old mop handle. I understand this is a contractual requirement designed to ensure due diligence in performing the monthly meter reading. This is such an exciting activity [even more so than exciting the European Union] that I could not bear to be denied it by the provision of a smart gas meter so I have not asked for one, hence I have no idea how it would work without a permanent electricity supply.

We do have a smart electricity meter but I have never taken the monitoring device out of its box in the five years we have lived in the house. I am quite content to supply monthly readings at the same time as I am doing the gas and I have the web page open. E.On’s webpage always tells me my electricity meter readings are wrong anyway, but I have got over that now. Since they have recently taken a physical reading by a human being perhaps our stars are in alignment at last; I haven’t checked as I shan’t be sending them a meter reading until the new year.

I regard the quarterly bills as something of a lottery with their wild fluctuations and all the consistency of a yo-yo. I never jump for joy when the occasional bonus bill arrives predicting a windfall since it has a mercurial character not found in any other aspect of accounts administration to my knowledge.

From what Wavechange says it seems that customers with battery powered gas meters are going to have to consult their monitoring devices from time to time to see whether the battery needs replacing. I have no inclination to do that so they would have to send an e-mail, but are we expected to supply and fit a new battery ourselves? I am surprised that with modern micro-engineering it is not possible to install a fly-wheel driven by the gas pressure on the supplier’s side of the meter to generate enough power to transmit the half-hourly consumption data.

Moving on to the more important question of helping those who would benefit most from being able to check on their energy use, I agree with Wavechange’s comment but I still think the uptake will be low in that category and even those with a smart meter fitted might not actually make much use of the monitoring device. I would suggest there should be a programme to install and explain to confused people how to make the best use of them.

And finally, . . . Duncan rightly warns us of a future prospect, currently kept under wraps by the energy industry, that in due course consumers without smart meters will be charged more for their energy than those with them. I would consider that pernicious but I have not seen anything from the government or Ofgem that rules it out. Time for a question in the House perhaps.

You might find this hard to believe John I actually get embarrassed when anybody compliments me I am so used to antagonism that its more natural to me and I expect it . It dates back to my childhood , never got praised always criticised. I do appreciate it though! Alfa would probably have a psychosomatic expression for it.

John Reid says:
5 January 2018

How often do they need replaced and who foots the bill

It will be interesting to know how business will cope with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will become law in May 2018: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/individual-rights/right-of-access/

Sadly, commercial organisations were exempted from Freedom of Information requests but not from the provisions of GDPR. It will be interesting to find out what information our energy suppliers hold about us and what they are doing with it.

If I thought that my smart meter, if I had one, was spying on me I would make an immediate appointment to see a psychiatrist, which is probably the reason why I am reluctant to have one 🙂

And they’re expensive, personal Psychiatrists…

John Reid says:
5 January 2018

what about the health implications???

It’s very difficult to prove safety, John. We learn by experience and sometimes products are withdrawn. The best example I know is gardening chemicals, where hundreds have been withdrawn or changed in formulation over the years.

Back in the early 80s, many were concerned about electromagnetic radiation from microwave ovens, but most homes have one and few remain concerned. I still have a government leaflet about the possible risk of using mobile phones. When it was produced, fifteen or twenty years ago, we were still uncertain about the long-term risks and caution was advised, particularly over children using phones. Some remain concerned about wireless routers that broadcast signals round our homes.

Here is current government information about smart meters and health: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smart-meters-radio-waves-and-health/smart-meters-radio-waves-and-health

There is no need for anyone to allow smart meters to be installed, but the companies conveniently forget to mention this in their marketing.

Some are paranoid about all smart (tech) dtevice spying on them The media just makes thing worse by publishing every small scare story the media hears true or usually not

Yes, but if no-one cared then there would be little incentive to design products that are secure.

this implies manufacturers of products “don’t care” about security. I doubt that is the case. Often flaws in anything – products, systems, laws – only become apparent when they are put into everyday mass use. Feedback, preferably factual not scares, helps make things better.

Tracey Greaves says:
2 May 2018

I have just received a quote from my current supplier. Happy with the figure, but there is a big fat cow in the corner of the room – it is conditional that I have a smart meter fitted within 60 days of ageeing to it. I do not want one fitted as they will have access to all sorts of information that I do not want them to know. I was brought up with the saying, “What goes on within these four walls, stays within these walls!” I do not want every Tom, Dick or Harry kowing my business. Are all providers going down this route?

There is no requirement to have smart meters fitted, Tracey: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/do-i-have-to-accept-a-smart-meter It looks as if your supplier has given false information.

I suggest you contact Citizens Advice. Can you let us know the name of the supplier in case they are giving the same information to others.

John says:
7 June 2019

What I think Tracey is getting at, is that the supplier has made having a ‘smart’ meter a condition of the (supposedly cheaper) tariff, not that she has to have one ‘legally’.

I got an email from my new supplier, in the ‘small print’ was this little gem;

“. . . Easy Online is a tariff backed with a smart meter. If you don’t book your appointment and complete your meter installation in accordance with its terms, we may end this contract on 30 days’ notice and transfer you onto Deemed contract terms and prices (which are typically more expensive). . . “