/ 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
Guest
Matt Mullen says:
9 March 2011

I think the primary issue at this stage is for there to be a clear data usage policy (and guidance to the industry as such) on how this data will be used. There is a big difference between anonymous data being collated to look at usage across geographical areas and personalised data analysis, directed towards the behavioural targeting of third-party marketing collateral, as you suggest.

It is clear that detailed analytic data on our everyday consumer habits is of real important to how companies target their services; why else would Tescos et al reward people with vouchers for providing them with their shopping data ? It’s hard to imagine for second it is an act of altruism.

As such, perhaps an opt-in system – where the consumer can allow such usage data to be collected and tagged to their account – could reward them with a rate discount on the energy used ? A fair quid pro quo for having your energy supplied bugged ? Or does that mean that real privacy becomes something that only the wealthier consumer can afford to maintain ?

Hmmm…..

Guest

Opt-in sounds great in theory but think about what happens with a store loyalty card. Those who don’t opt-in get charged a lot more.

I’m more worried about what Tesco does with the data it collects.

Guest

I have grave doubts about how optional an optional system would be.

Once the smart meter is installed it would more likely be an overt or a covert system: overt if you opt in and covert if you opt out.

Guest
john says:
5 April 2013

It seems the back handers are not big enough where I live to force people into having a smart meter, the contractors are only interested in creating a lot of work for no good reason, yes new gas main pipes have been laid in my street, the contractor said “internal meters are illegal” the HSE say nonsense, they are perfectly legal, the contractors who usually backhand the local council have been told they must reinstall the existing meters, except the meters will be moved outside which of course means every householder will have to go outside in all weathers to read their meter, if there is nothing wrong with the meter and they don’t intend to issue smart meters, why dump all these cost’s onto local taxpayers.

Guest
npower press office says:
11 March 2011

Smart metering technology is at the heart of the Government’s carbon reduction plans, as they provide much more information about the way we all use energy than the current metering equipment can. By understanding how we use our energy, this will help us all to find ways of reducing our consumption and also help make our individual contribution to the overall carbon reduction targets.

Part of the role that energy suppliers will play is to develop more flexible tariffs and products that will encourage our customers to make energy savings. Customers will expect us to design products and tariffs to suit their individual consumption and needs, and therefore to collect more information from the meter than happens today.

Customer privacy and data security is key to the work being done in the industry and we are working with Ofgem to ensure that the appropriate customer protections are in place when the mass rollout starts next year. There are already customer protection mechanisms in place, such as the Data Protection Act, European Convention and Human Rights and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, that will ensure data is used in an appropriate way and that marketing information is only sent to those customers who have agreed to receive such messages.

We have installed some smart meters for customers who have agreed to take part in our smart metering trials, all of which have had few concerns about sharing data with us.

Guest
I.P.D. says:
4 May 2011

As an npower customer I have already written to them to let them know that I will not allow a smart meter to be installed in my home as this will be an infringement of my `Human Right to protect my health in my own home. I will not have a wireless device installed in my home as I am electrosensitive and have spent a fortune on protecting my personal space from outside microwave radiation sources like WiFi and mobile phone mast radiation. I myself do not use WiFi or a mobile phone for this reason and reserve my right to do so in the future.

It is very interesting that nowhere in any `public’ consultation document ( which is NOT being distributed amongst all energy users!) health effects are mentioned, although there is plenty of research ( the Bio Initiative Report alone contains 2000 such research documents!), which points to adverse health effects from wireless microwave technology. Not mentioning the `possibility ‘of adverse health effects when offering smart meters to their custumers leaves energy companies wide open to future litigation due to `wilful neglect’. In fact, the transmission mode is not even explained in these documents and the wording ` remote’ does not fully explain that the signal is transmitted via pulsed microwaves. A mention of the frequency should also be included so that customers are fully educated about this new device they soon will be `forced’ to have installed in their homes.

In Italy there have already been two High Court judgements supporting claims of adverse health effects caused by wireless transmission and one of the largest insurance companies have recently stepped back from liability for health effects from electromagnetic radiation.

There is a huge outcry in the US following people experiencing ill health after installation of smart meters and I encourage everyone to watch the videos of experts expressing grave concern on http://www.bemri.org. UTube also has a large amount of information regarding the public outcry in the US about smart meter health effects.

My question is WHY do we have to use a wireless transmission mode when it is perfectly possible to send the information via ethernet? Who profits at the price of public health ? What companies are involved in `managing’ transmission and how much do they get for this service?

The public is largely clueless about health effects and by neglecting the mention of such a possibility, this ignorance will go on.

Guest

To paraphrase Victor Meldrew ‘I don,t believe it’!

I work in software development, regardless of assurances as long as there is surveillance then there will be leaks.

Guest
jack says:
8 July 2016

[Sorry Jack, your comment has been removed for breaching Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Guest
Jon says:
26 March 2017

Is that a qualified opinion IPD or tin foil hat stuff?

Guest

Jon could you post a rebuttal I am nothing but even handed, I know where you are coming from with the”tin-foil hat” an American euphemism but IPD has laid out his point of view explicitly . Not all people have the same resistance to electromagnetic radiation , I have otherwise I would have been in my grave decades ago as I have spent my life with all sorts of electronic equipment that radiates , not so my wife who is extremely sensitive to HF/RF/UHF radiation , so I can understand his concerns but I would like to hear your rebuttal ?

Guest

Hi all,

I’ve been representing Which? at the Smartmeter & Privacy roundtables hosted by Ofgem, where all the big utility players, consumer groups, privacy civil society advocates and other interested parties have been thrashing out the issues. There’s been some lively debate as industry has tried to justify why they need a certain granularity of data, to be taken at certain time periods for different data uses – whether it’s to offer time of use tarifs or to understand their customers better. I doubt it will be a simple ‘opt-in’, ‘opt-out’ argument as there are so many different data uses, each one needs to be justified in detail.

There are no doubt consumer benefits, and arguably, societal benefits, to be had – for example, suppliers argue that with granular data they can analyse individual usage to advise consumers on how to lower their energy use and save in the long term (“Ms Nelson, you spend far too much on lighting in comparison to the norm, we recommend you to move to these type of light bulbs which could save you this much a year”). However, consumers must be offered a real and meaningful choice as to whether they want in or out and the the full implications of the choice have to be transparent.

But on a more holistic level – there seems to be a different choice to be made, as recognised by Matt and Wavechange above, and it’s one which seems to rear it’s head in all areas where consumers can reap benefits from new technologies – the cost is the potential infringement to one’s privacy. This choice is far from ideal – privacy or consumer benefits?

Let’s hope the continuing discussions at the roundtables for smartmeters at least will be able to find a satisfactory solution.

Guest
Good Energy says:
14 March 2011

Good Energy believes that smart meters have the potential to bring huge benefits to customers not just in better tariffs, but lower costs to service and developing smart networks – which should eventually result in lower energy bills. To deliver these benefits, suppliers need access to the half-hourly data. Suppliers can also utilise this data to highlight to their customers the best opportunities for making changes to their behaviour and therefore help them to reduce their energy consumption.
It is not what we collect, but how we protect it and use it that is the issue. Data Protection law means an energy supplier could only use it for the purpose intended, i.e. the supply of gas or electricity, and to use it for any other purpose without consent is illegal.
The half-hourly data cannot be used for sales or to be passed to third parties unless specifically agreed to by the customer. Customers should be able to trust their energy providers to use their data securely and in a way that benefits the customer through a change in behaviour.

Guest
Jack Hall says:
25 May 2012

I am a Good Energy customer and there is no way that I will be allowing a wireless smart meter on my property. I strongly object to having a smart meter in my home which emits microwaves. Scientific studies have described biological damage from microwaves at exposures below the current guidelines. But the science is being ignored, because it is inconvenient. Why should this technology be introduced before safety studies into their health effects are carried out? Perhaps because people do not want to know the answers. I am a customer, and I do not like the meters you are proposing to use.

Guest
John Lewins says:
17 March 2011

One of the problems is that at present not all energy suppliers can support the smart meters. I sell electricity to business customers and one of the big 6 suppliers cannot support these meters on their regular billing platform. Instead of their regular prices I need to set the customer up on bespoke pricing through the industrial and commercial dept as opposed to SME. These prices are normally higher and uncompetitive and therefore the customer loses the opportunity to benefit from the other prices. Until all meters are compatible with every suppliers billing system this is likely to be a problem.

Guest
Janet - Bradford says:
23 April 2011

I am a British Gas customer, who got involved with their Green Streets project. Following a survey of my home they suggested a number of things, one of which was a smart meter. It was installed at the end of July, 2010. Prior to that I had the free energysmart electricity monitor which all utility companies seem to be giving away. I cannot stress how good the smart meter has been. We have reduced our electricity consumption from over 9500kwh in 2009 to 8000kwh in 2010 (approx £180 per year saving). We also had PV panels fitted at the end of September 2010, so anticipate a further reduction in our usage. With regards to using the meters to develop some kind of hidden agenda, at least any offers sent out would be relevant to me. At present we get 100% of meaningless rubbish through the door offering stuff we are not remotely interested in. Targeted offers would cut this figure down to a few percent and stop my postman having to put unwanted mailshots through my door. If you’re going to get paranoid about who knows you’re away, how often, whether your boiler is old and needs replacing, you’re probably going to end up on a mailing list for a company that offers a pill for such paranoia.
The smart meter shows our family just how much electricity we use, minute by minute and that is something to be paranoid about. I’m sure we can all say we waste electricity (and money). Any device that will bring that usage into the home, on view can only be a good thing. Most people don’t even bother to even look at their meters, that’s something for the meter man to look at. A bill plops through the door and they pay it, grudgingly. Or they go to top up more often.
I have nothing but good things to say about my smart meter. Any info that may, or may not be gathered from it is a sideline to me. I can choose to look at these messages and dismiss them, or not. In fact, I’d be surprised if this info is even collated, as BG seem to not be fully geared up to using the basic info obtained by smart metering anyway. I still get meter readers calling. I still submit my meter reading online, as BG website doesn’t reflect the fact that I have a smart meter. After a recent fiasco with BG, I’d be more concerned about the appalling customer service people they have manning the phone lines, than any automated system they might have.

Guest
A.Rose says:
27 April 2011

For security reasons,I don’t want to let all and sundry know when, and how often I go on holiday.

Will the insurance companies put up their premiums as a consequence?.

Smart meters are an intrusion.

Guest
William Dobbie says:
28 April 2011

I’ve had smart meters installed by First Utility. I can see half -hourly data on electricity usage but the gas usage is only daily. Would have liked the gas data half-hourly as well to help me trim energy usage. Maybe that’s why they’re only let me see daily data?

Guest
Peter Wells says:
30 April 2011

I had smart meters installed by First Utility last July. Since then I have never had an electricity bill and my gas bill has alway been estimated on my non-existent old meter. Despite numerous emails/ phone calls/letters nothing changed. In desperation I switched companies in November. I have not yet had a final gas or electricity bill. I think smart meters are a great way of saving money.

Guest
D Haselden says:
1 May 2011

Data usage is not even the half of it. The real problems stem from the fact that as I understand it a smart meter gives energy companies the power to control, and to switch off, your electricity supply remotely at the drop of a hat. And moreover the system will inevitably be hackable which means that outside forces could switch us all off. Paranoid perhaps but as someone once nearly said, just because you are paranoid does not mean they’re not really out to get you !

Guest
Each For All says:
3 May 2011

Yes, data privacy is an issue – but surely no more so than with other industries where our data is required and stored – and is protected under law in the way we expect: for example with our mobiles, loyalty cards, companies we interact with etc?

We believe the roll out of Smart Meters will give extremely valuable energy consumption feedback to households (reducing consumption, bills and carbon emissions). We also believe this is a tremendous opportunity to install a unique (electricity) ‘Microgen Ready’ smart meter which gives every household the ability to connect easily and much more cheaply to microgeneration (PV, solar thermal, micro CHP etc) – giving the household as much ownership and control over their energy and supply as the supplier, including – effectively – switching off the grid! With home energy storage just around the corner, this really is ‘power to the people’!

We are discussing the benefits of the smart meter roll out including a Microgen Ready smart meter at http://www.microgenready.co.uk. With the Smart Meter Roll Out we have the opportunity to roll out the future!

Guest

Hi Each for All – interesting point. You say that data privacy is no more an issue than with other industries where our data is required and stored, but I think there’s a bit more to it than that.

Firstly, it’s compulsory to have a smart meter – the government wants one in every home. So while I can pick and choose whether to have a Tesco Clubcard tracking my shopping, I can’t decide to opt-out of having a smart meter, which tracks my energy use.

Secondly, the real issue here is that although there will be rules and checks and data protection safeguards, many companies have started rolling out smart meters before this has been agreed. There have recently been a lot of high-profile privacy breaches (e.g. Sony PSN, Epsilon, etc) that I think consumers have a right to know where there data is going, who will see it, and how well it will be protected before they have a smart meter installed.

Finally there’s the issue of informed consent. Do people really know how much data smart meters are collecting? At the moment companies are (understandably) reluctant to shout from the rooftops about exactly what they could find out.

I should probably also say that I’m definitely not against smart meters – I think they’re a brilliant idea, for all the reasons you state, and if they can really help lower people’s energy consumption (which I think they will) then I’ll be first in the queue to get one of my own. The problem, I think, comes when something that *is* a great idea is rushed out before there are proper consumer protections in place, and it’s that I’m worried about in this article.

D. Haselden – remote switchoff is a very interesting issue. I’m pretty sure we have regulations at the moment that prevent companies from disconnecting those who would be left vulnerable with no heating (e.g. elderly people, or those who are very ill, in mid-winter). However, I am not an expert, but I’ll mention this to the Which? guys who are campaigning on smart meters and see what the situation is.

Guest
S.Miller says:
4 May 2011

there is tremendous opposition in California to the smart meter roll out, here is why

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KAm3XBmq5A&feature=related

Guest
Northerner says:
4 May 2011

The microwave transmissions will be indeed be carrying data – that can be used and abused.

It is very disappointing that the Which article omitted to inform readers of the safety hazards due to poor installation, severe health problems and the excessive bills due to wringly reading ‘smart-meters’ that the so-called ‘smart-meters’ are causing for P G & E customers in the USA. Nor was there any mention of adverse health effects that the emissions [in the microwave frequency range] are causing. The transmissions were incidentally reported by on of the PG & E engineers doing the installation as being once every SIX SECONDS. That is exactly the transmission frequency that I am measuring on my land from a neighbour’s smart meter using a specialist meter.

The health effects of these ‘smart-meters’ is very worrying to the approx. 3% of the population who have become electrosensitive and cannot tolerate the pulsed microwave emissions from devices such as mobile phones/ DECT phones/ wifi. The prospect enforced installation of these devices by the utility companies and the enforced subjection to the microwave radiation is very worrying. Where just where can we live?

The adverse effects of microwave radiation have been known for decades.
Adverse health effects have been documented by German doctors Dr . Cornelia Waldmann-Selsam and colleagues at levels of just 10 microwatts per square metre.
There are some interesting video on YouTube showing the emissions from these devices.
At much higher levels.

The Swedish company EON already has alternative arrangements for members of the Swedish electrosensitivity association – they do not have to have ‘smart meters’.

I do not wish to have a smart meter in my home. Nor do other who have become electrosensitive. It is highly likely that more people will become electrosensitive in the future as the result of this enforced radiation exposure. from which there will be no respite and no escape. I have had to spend literally thousands of pounds on screening materials to reduce the measured high phone mast emissions on my pillow. I certainly do not want a transmitting device in my home.

——————-
Reasons to say no to smart meters
http://www.scribd.com/doc/52614951/Reasons-to-Say-No-to-Smart-Meters

Guest

In response to the issues of adverse health effects.

We looked at this and there is minimal independent evidence about smart meter radiation available out there. There are a few reports for or against, but these seem biased depending on who commissioned the research.

However, smart meters emit the same type of radiation as mobile phones, at the same or lower levels. It’s also the same radiation as wi-fi, TV and radio. The World Health Organisation looked at the effects of mobile phone radiation and has concluded there is no solid evidence that long-term, low level EMF causes adverse health problems. We could extrapolate from this that the same would be for smart meters, which will also be further away from the body, so won’t have direct biological effects on the body caused by heat.

There is another issue around the LAN – local area networks – that the smart meters would transmit too, but exposure levels, according to the California Council on Science and Technology, are less than that of TV and radio.

It should be noted also that WHO does not recognise Electomagnetic Hypersensitivity, as a condition, though there are many people who present with symptoms they attribute to EMF.

Currently smart meters do not look to be any worse for you than mobile phones, and WHO evidence shows there is no clear evidence for long-term, low level exposure to EMF/RF causing adverse health conditions. However, we will be keeping an eye on this.

Guest

@ Joe.
I’m sceptical about the radiation effects and I would ask that Which? present the following point when involved with OfGEM et al in discussions on Smart Meters:
“There is no proof of ill effects from Mobile ‘phones or Smart Meters. However, the technology used in both cases is quite new in terms of the development of attributable illnesses. The PUblic can choose not to have a Mobil ‘phone or to have one and keep it switched off when not in use and / or to use it very little. The bodies who suggest there is a link between mobile ‘phones and ill health generally appear to say that it is the ‘phone (handset) that is the likely danger, rather than the communication masts. With Smart Meters it is proposed that it will be compulsory for every home to have one each for Gas an Electricity. For most homes in the UK that will mean two transmitting devices over which the home owner will have no control with regard to the signal strength, the frequency of use (and I understand from the American experience that it will be near-constant use) or the position within the home. It could transpire in the future, when the technology for ‘phones and meters has been around for long enough, that ill effects are proven to exist. Whilst this is unknown the public should have the same choice about Smart Meters that they do about mobile ‘phones – i.e. the meters should not be compulsory.”
Thanks.

Guest
Each For All says:
4 May 2011

Hi Nikki

Data protection is of course paramount and as you have clearly and very importantly highlighted, we should all be concerned that our data is protected in the most secure way possible – perhaps in the same way banking systems protect data…

As far as we understand, the smart meter consultation process is taking this issue very seriously with the customer’s interests and concerns top priority. These issues should hopefully be resolved satisfactorily prior to mass roll out from 2014, via government consumer consultation.

Data protection, as far as we know, is an obligation in law and any company who wins the bid will have to deliver. The question remains, as you point out with the Sony situation and others, how can absolute security be achieved and maintained, and how we, as individuals, can control and authorise our data usage. As participants in ‘the big society’ we will want to be absolutely certain that this happens. We expect the government led consumer consultation process to achieve these assurances.

PS Your article is very important in raising awareness of smart meters. You have pointed out many concerns and benefits and its great to get the discussion going in order to reach and inform the 27million UK households that will be getting these meters. The better understood these meters become prior to mass roll out the sooner people can start to save energy which means lower carbon emissions and lower bills!

Guest
Dr A Goldsworthy says:
4 May 2011

There are many problems associated with wireless smart meters, ranging from invasion of privacy, to their susceptibility to hacking and vulnerability to cyber attack. However, what neither the Government nor the Power Industry tell you about is that they use microwave radiation to carry the information to and from the utility companies. This is not a safe technology and can affect health in a number of ways. The most obvious is in people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) where the effects on the peripheral nervous system cause all sorts of unpleasant sensations, ranging from the relatively mild to the debilitating. At present, it is estimated that between about three and eight percent of the population suffer in this way and many of them find themselves unable to use a mobile phone are live near a base station without ill effects.
This number is increasing, since previously healthy people can become EHS after prolonged exposure to the radiation (as they would be if exposed to wireless smart meters). These effects are sub-thermal; i.e. they occur at levels below those that cause significant heating of the tissues and, consequently, our present safety guidelines (which are based only on heating) do not protect us against them . Present evidence suggests that it is a direct electrical effect on electrically-charged cell membranes, which destabilises them to make them leak and give most of the described symptoms. You can find more about this, together with the scientific references at;
http://mcs-america.org/june2010pg910111213141516.pdf

There are also other effects associated with prolonged microwave radiation, including cardiac arrhythmia, sleep disturbances, weakened immune systems and cancer. If people are forced to have microwave-based smart meters, it is an infringement of their human rights since they will have no way of avoiding the radiation. The solution is to abandon the wireless part and transmit the information to the utility companies using a wired connection, as is already done in Italy. Most of the problems would then go away.

Guest
d.andrew says:
5 May 2011

Hi,
Take notice of what Dr Goldswrthy says!
You at “Which” should make it your business to find out about the ill effects of microwave technologies and make it public – that would be real consumer support.
Sadly the mobile phone companies are too powerful and manage to supress any research that shows negative effects of microwaves. There are plenty out there if you look but the media do not publish it.
On a personal note I realised that microwaves were causing illness after I bought a microwave oven but it was not until I had a mobile phone that I made a connection with microwaves. I suffered the same ill effects after using a mobile phone as I did after using a microwave oven, or being near a mobile phone mast.
The ill effects were headaches, lack of clarity of thought, forgetfullness, anxiety, bad temper and sleep disturbances.
Once I stopped using the oven and then the mobile phone (many years later) much of these were dissipated, although it is very difficult to get away from microwave these days, I found just not having them near to me helps. – no mobile phone or WiFi.
There must be many people out there that have illnesses that they cannot find the cause for because they are constantly exposed to microwaves and so find it difficult to decide on cause and effect. Indeed if friends and relatives etc. are considered I would say many people suffer to some extend from the effects of microwave but don’t realise it and decide that they are stressed.
Those of us who remember a pre-microwave era then we would say there are a number of problems that are on the increase – stress related diseases and cancers. People just don’t get on any more!
I think by the time we accept that microwaves cause illness much harm will be done. Remember smoking, leaded petrol, GM foods? The companies tried to supress the research. Are we living on a time bomb?

Guest
Dr A Goldsworthy says:
4 May 2011

Incidentally, if you have been persuaded by the powers that be that mobile (cell) phones are safe, please visit
http://emf.mercola.com/sites/emf/archive/2011/05/04/do-cell-phones-cause-brain-cancer.aspx

Guest
Northener says:
4 May 2011

Reply to Jo Gibney – Your response shows lack of knowledge of the research and lack of awareness of the EU Parliament Report on the Bioinitiative Report. As for the WHO EMF Team, the persons leading the project have been engineers/consultants from the mobile industry. The ICNIRP guidelines were set by engineers associated with the mobile industry and representatives from the USA military. The latter use microwave weapons so they have an interest in keeping levels high. The guidelines were not set by independent medical doctors with expertise in diagnosing and treating people or biologists – and they were based purely on heating effects. Biological effects have been well demonstrated below the currently permitted ICNIRP levels.

The syndrome of electromagnetic hypersensitivity was first identified in 1932.
The World Health Organisation stated that the non-specific symptoms characterising electromagnetic sensitivity are “certainly real” and also that “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity can be disabling to sufferers”.

I suggest that you read the research by Professor Olle Johansson, Karolinska Institute, Sweden as his research showing just HOW the radiation can affect the skin causing itching, burning, pain. ohansson O (2006).Electromagn Biol Med “Electrosensitivity:state-of-the-art of a functional impairment”.
I suggest that you also read the research by Eger et al. [2004] and Wolf and Wolf [2004] that showed increased cancers within 400 and 350 metres of phone masts respectively. Also read the REFLEX STUDY which showed genetic damage to microwave exposed tissues in laboratory experiments. Note that there are NO published research studies actually studying health effects of wifi.

Electrosensitivity is recognised as a physical impairment in Sweden and BY LAW homes or workplaces MUST be sanitised to reduce/remove either microwave sources or electrical sources that are causing problems to electrosensitive individuals. Electrosensitivity is also recognised in Canada.

Have you actually READ the Bioinitiative Report? All of it? The findings of the Bioinitiative Report was accepted by the European Commission and also overwhelmingly by the European Parliament? Specifically, it was accepted by the EU that the present permitted exposures from mobile phones, DECT phones, wifi do NOT protect health.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A6-2008-0260&language=EN

REPORT
18 June 2008
PE 404.442v02-00 A6-0260/2008

on the mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010
(2007/2252(INI))
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Rapporteur: Frédérique Ries

Note especially these points:
I. whereas there is increasing scientific evidence that certain cancers, such as cancer of the bladder, bone cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer and others are caused not only by the effects of chemical substances, radiation and airborne particles but also by OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS,
J. whereas these problematic developments in environmental health have been accompanied in recent years by the emergence of new diseases or syndromes, such as multiple chemical hypersensibility, dental-amalgam syndrome, HYPERSENSITIVITY TO ELECTrOMAGNETIC RADIATION, sick-building syndrome and attention-deficit and hyperactivity syndrome in children,

7. Stresses that, when it comes to assessing the impact of environmental factors on health, consideration should be given first and foremost to vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborn babies, children and the elderly;
15. Recommends that, in order to reduce damaging effects of the environment on health, the Commission should call upon Member States, by means of tax concessions and/or other economic incentives, to interest market operators in improving the quality of indoor air and REDUCING EXPOSURE TO ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION in their buildings, branch establishments and offices;
21. Is greatly concerned at the Bio-Initiative international report(7) concerning electromagnetic fields, which summarises over 1500 studies on that topic and which points in its conclusions to the HEALTH RISKS POSED BY EMISSIONS FROM MOBILE -TELEPHONY DEVICES such as mobile telephones, UMTS, Wifi, Wimax and Bluetooth, and also DECT landline telephones;
22. Notes that the LIMITS on exposure to electromagnetic fields which have been set for the general public are OBSOLETE, since they have not been adjusted in the wake of Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0Hz to 30 GHz)(8), obviously take no account of developments in information and communication technologies, of the recommendations issued by the European Environment Agency or of the stricter emission standards adopted, for example, by Belgium, Italy and Austria, and do not address the issue of vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, newborn babies and children.

33. Urges the Commission and Member States therefore to acknowledge the advantages of the prevention and precautionary principles and to develop and implement tools enabling potential environmental and health threats to be anticipated and countered; recommends that the Commission cost the ‘second cycle’ of this action plan and make provision for appropriate funding covering a larger number of practical measures to reduce environmental impact on health and to implement prevention and precautionary measures;

34. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the WHO
—————————————————————-

Electro sensitivity and Electro hypersensitivity – A Summary by Michael Bevington

Michael Bevington, Chair of Trustees of ES-UK, has written a 43 page book designed primarily for doctors, but also suitable for all of us to present to family, friends, colleagues and MPs, among others. It outlines ES, its symptoms and existing medical tests in 16 pages followed by some 800 references to scientific papers relating to this illness.
I suggest that you buy a copy from ES-UK and read it from cover to cover and learn about the adverse effects that can and do occur.

You need to be aware that the mobile industry biased WHO EMF TEAM omits research from their reviews those studies that show harmful effects. The WHO EMF Team has received substantial funding from the mobile operators. The WHO EMF Workshop in Prague was essentially a meeting of the mobile industry and just TWO medically qualified doctors were there.

The radiation used by the telecommunications is not safe at present levels. Adding more radiation to the environment is not a good idea and it will be sheer torture for those who already are electrosensitive.

Guest
Stephen Kane says:
4 May 2011

<It’s also the same radiation as wi-fi, TV and radio.

I understand – perhaps incorrectly – that smart meters and wifi employ pulsed microwave radiation, whereas TV and radio don't . . . (?)

<We looked at this and there is minimal independent evidence about smart meter radiation available out there.

True – as long as you ignore (i) people's real world experiences and (ii) the mass of published scientific evidence against the advisability of prolonged exposure to pulsed microwave radiation.

This is one of many comments, on http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=2292, where you can read about many people's real world experiences of smart meters being installed in their homes:

". . . Please see, for example, the bibliography of reported biological phenomena associated with radio-frequency and microwave radiation compiled by the US Navy Medical Research Institute in 1971, with over 2,000 references., at: http://www.dtic.mil/cgibin/GetTRDoc?AD=AD750271&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf.

. . . Unfortunately, most countries’ regulations are still based on the old, inaccurate assumption that non-ionizing radiation is not harmful unless it actually heats body tissues. The fact that a given technology adheres to the present standards is meaningless in terms of its actual biological effects. Even an EPA spokesperson has stated that present U.S. standards are not protecting citizens from harmful radiation. Research shows harmful effects at levels far below what is presently allowed.

As was concluded by the authors of the Bioiniative Report (www.bioinitiative.org ), it is unwise from a public health perspective to continue “business-as-usual,” deploying new technologies that increase RF exposures, particularly involuntary exposures.

Any company or industry whose products or operational methodologies cause involuntary exposure to RF radiation would do well to become more informed about these and other effects of such exposure, both to protect the public and to protect themselves from future liability suits." by Dr. Roy D. Ozanne, MD, HMD,

<We could extrapolate from this that the same would be for smart meters, which will also be further away from the body, so won’t have direct biological effects on the body caused by heat.

If Which? is really interested in what's best for consumers, perhaps it should avoid resorting to this kind of simplistic guesswork, and quoting the obsolete 'party line.' And start looking at the data that hasn't been sponsored by the industry. As the number of people becoming hypersensitive to EMR grows at an accelerating rate – as a direct consequence of increased exposure – I would expect a responsible consumer protection and advisory service to accept that it has a duty to take this issue seriously.

Guest
Will Godson says:
5 May 2011

More 50 cent posters on here than enough. Is 50 (or 15) cents really all your health and privacy is worth to you?

Guest
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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest
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

Guest

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.

Guest
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!

Guest
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.

Guest
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.

Guest
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!!

Guest
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!!

Guest

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!

Guest
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.

Guest
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.

Guest
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.

[Hello Blockheads, we have edited your comment as it was all written in capital letters. Please also stay away from using swear words excessively. Read our commenting guidelines for more information. Thanks, mods.]

Guest
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!!

Guest

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.

Guest
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!!

Guest

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.

Guest

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!

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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 ?

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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.

Guest

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 🙂

Guest

And they’re expensive, personal Psychiatrists…