Did You Know?
Old-style gas, electricity and water meters are being replaced by smart meters. The UK government intends to install wireless smart meters in every home, school and workplace by 2019 at a cost of at least £11bn. Installation has already started in some areas. Smart meters measure your exact gas, electricity and water usage and then send all the information back to your energy supplier via a wireless link. The cost of installing the system will be paid by consumers through their energy bills. After discussion with consumers, including on Which? Conversation, it is clear that there are huge issues with consumer trust in the smart meter roll-out, with many raising concerns about things such as data security, safety and health.
What’s the Cost?
While having a smart meter installed is free, you may incur the cost indirectly through your bills. At the moment, the roll-out is being led by the energy companies, and the government has not yet put checks in place to make sure that costs don’t spiral. Smart meters will mean more accurate bills but they themselves will not save you money. The government says the average energy bill will increase by £7 by 2015 to pay for the smart meter roll-out. You’ll only save money on your energy bills if you actively use the information to see where you could reduce your energy consumption, and then make an effort to do so. Unlike energy monitors, which you can buy in the shops and set up yourself, smart meters need to be installed by your energy company. Smart meters will need to be replaced around every 10 years – which is more often than current gas and electricity meters. The scheme is likely to save energy suppliers more than £300m a year by removing the need to take meter readings or deal with bill disputes. Source: Which.co.uk
You Should Not be Pressured
The government has banned all sales during the smart meter installation. This means that companies can give you information, but must then leave you to make the decision rather than being pressured. “it will not be an offence for householders to refuse to accept a smart meter and we have made it clear that we do not expect suppliers to seek an entry warrant simply to fit smart metering equipment.” Dept. Energy & Climate Change. You do not legally have to accept a smart meter in your home, and there are lots of alternative devices that don’t involve Wi-FI that can measure your electric usage.
Smart meters broadcast detailed usage data from our homes to the supplier via a central data office. They use wireless technology and operate day and night, constantly emitting microwave radiation over a wide area, so radiation from your neighbours’ meters will affect your property. The UK government have chosen to use outdated (ICNIRP) safety guidelines which focus on the thermal effects. Other countries including Russia and China have updated their safety guidelines to include non-thermal effects on health; fibre optic connections would be safer for privacy and health. While a one-off exposure may not cause harm to adults, continuous involuntary exposure to low-level microwave radiation (e.g. smart meters, tetra, mobile phone masts etc) is already causing harm to vulnerable people. There has been no government research into the long-term, cumulative health effects especially on children, babies and people with existing long-term illness. If you have any concerns, or your neighbour has Environmental Illness please keep your existing meters and find out more. In 2012 Charles Hendry Energy Minister, told the House of Commons: “We believe that people will benefit from having smart meters, but we will not make them obligatory. If people are concerned about the electromagnetic issues, they will not be required to have one. We have been willing to give assurances to Hon Members on that account.”