East Dulwich (Mobile) Forum

Smart Meter - downsides ?

I've been offered free installation of a Smart Meter for my gas and electricity. Apart from privacy issues, which I'm not bothered about, are there any other downsides to having a smart meter fitted ?
Ed-Pete, why would a smart meter have privacy issues?
No downsides at all! We got ours fitted last year and it's fantastic. I know exactly how much I'm spending each month. Never have to crawl into a cupboard with a torch anymore and your monthly payment amount is much more accurate.
We had one put in and I found it really useful.

It makes you aware of what you are spending but can also drive you a little mad! You turn on a set of halogen lights and suddenly the electric goes shooting up. Then you trim your heating by 30 mins either side and drop it 1 degree. The aim of them in the end I guess.

No privacy issues i'm aware of really.

But - the whole process of installation and technology is an absolute shambles. Inevitably the consumer will pay for the installation and devices via their rates. But, we had one put in by British Gas, we moved from them 4 months later to get a better rate and now EDF have to completely reinstall because they need their own equipment.
So we have the device from BG and now its useless, they told me just to bin it. Such a waste of something for 4 months use...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was march 07, 07:29am by sheff.

Re: privacy - the meter has the ability to send readings to your supplier every 30 minutes and some people have said that this represents an intrusion but personally I'm not bothered.
Re: changing suppliers. I'm with First Utility and the letter I received did have some small print about the "advantages" not necessarily being able to be transferred were I to switch to a new supplier which seems completely crazy. The meters should be universal, surely.
You have to ask why they are so keen on smart meters - and it's not so you can see how much you are using. The main issue is that, sooner or later, energy prices will change to reflect peak/non-peak usage. So, having your heating on between 7 and 9 in the evening will be far more expensive than, say during a weekday afternoon. Will we see the return of Economy 7 style storage heaters? Storage batteries for electricity?

And I'm betting we'll see a case involving an energy worker and a gang of burglars...
Some of these metres are giving out wrong readings.some are over charging hundreds of pounds.there's also reports in the papers last couple of days .even though the energy company's know its errors in the system.some metres are clocking up £20.000 a day.modern technology eh !
I came across this website about a year ago

Makes interesting reading about smart meters including the perceived health risks, future costs and so on.

Not advocating what the website says, but read through it and make your own decisions and conclusions


This refers to a recent Dutch study on the reasons why some smart meters may not record usage accurately:

TheArtfulDogger Wrote:

I came across this website about a year ago

Makes interesting reading about smart meters including the perceived health risks, future costs
and so on.

Some actually quite interesting articles, mixed in with the really-quite-disturbingly unhinged. "The effects of Smart Meters on human blood cells" was a doozy. And any site that links, wit a straight face, to a magazine called "What Doctors Don't Tell" you is just not serious.
lavender27 Wrote:

Ed-Pete, why would a smart meter have privacy

As Loz suggests, the meter sends signals about energy usage. They send them to your supplier, and to your smartphone, which should be secure enough. Until you remember that you can change your supplier, so your smart meter has to be readable by any supplier on the market. And all their engineers. Including the sub-contracted ones. In short, they can be read by just about anyone.

Loz's fear, a well-founded one, is that, as energy usage tends to be at a minumum when a house is unoccupied (even if the lights are on timers), usage patterns are a useful guide as to when the owners are away, and thus a gift to the burglareous.

That's a real risk. But it's far from the worst.

Last year a botnet, a cluster of thousands of computers that distribute viruses and spam, launched an attack on a large number of sites. That wasn't unusual. What was unusual was that the botnet's computers included a refrigerator, as well as routers, webcams and printers. Shortly afterwards, researchers, in a somewhat underwhelming demonstration, showed how a drone could be used to hack smart lightbulbs.

In short, devices with embedded computers can be hacked remotely, and have almost no defences against being hacked. A smart meter has an embedded computer, and so can be hacked. So what?, you might think. If it happens, you can dispute the bill.

But you'd be forgetting that the smartmeter talks to your smartphone. The smartphone that contains all your contacts, emails, private messages, photographs, payment details and so on.

That's the privacy issue.
Do we have to have a smart meter? Can we say no. Think on the tonight programme a few weeks back it was saying there were issues with installations going wrong etc. I really don't fancy one.
I my case it's optional, not mandatory.
Until 2020 it's optional so you can say no thank you

Not sure what happens after 2020 tbh
As Sheff said, there's a downside in that the meter is proprietary to the energy company, so switching providers will be slightly more of a chore than before.

Southern Electric have been hassling me to book a smart meter fitting. I did a comparison and instead I've switched providers - looks like I'll save £400 a year. (No idea what the smart meter protocol is from the new provider.)
The first generation of smart meters only work in "dumb" mode if you change suppliers - i.e. they'll turn into a normal meter without any advantage. Of course your new supplier may offer to fit a new smart meter...

The second generation - which are being fitted from this year on - are supposed to work seamlessly if you switch suppliers.

But, there is still a surplus of the old meters which are being fitted.

In short, unless you're completely apathetic to changing suppliers, it would be best to wait. Or confirm that the meter is one of the new generation.
What amuses me is the advertising campaign claiming an end to estimated bills

Years ago (whilst the earth was cooling down and we still all used a milkman on a daily basis) the gas and electricity companies employed meter readers who visited every household on a regular basis, read the meters and your bill was based on this reading (not estimated)

Then to save money the number of meter readers was cut and customers were asked to read their own meters, which resulted in people not being bothered or able to read the meter, and a rise in estimated bills.

Now the companies need to reduce the number of estimated bills so are spending millions (which ultimately we will pay for) to install so called smart meters because they tried to save money by getting rid of the majority of their meter readers in the first place.


TheArtfulDogger Wrote:

Now the companies need to reduce the number of
estimated bills so are spending millions (which
ultimately we will pay for) to install so called
smart meters because they tried to save money by
getting rid of the majority of their meter readers
in the first place.

It's a bit more nuanced than that. For a start, the smart meters are a key plank in the Government's carbon-reduction strategy, the thinking being that staring at a meter uses less energy than watching television. The consumer benefit to this is that, when we've all been smartened up, we'll be able to switch tariffs at half-hourly intervals, and thus saving ourselves billions, and cough up for our energy as we use it, saving the industry ditto.

Secondly, the meter readers (or 'pavement reading inefficiencies' in the jargon) didn't just pound the mean streets to make sure you've not been dialling-in porkies, they were also obliged to check the meters were safe, at least once every two years. Happily, Ofgem has relaxed this, deciding "to repeal the two-yearly meter inspection licence conditions in gas and electricity in their entirety", so that suppliers can "refocus resource on data driven theft strategies" through the Theft Risk Assessment Service, a digital repository of customer data run by Electralink, an outfit owned by the main distributors (the folk that operate the network) that, among other things, mines that data to "improve marketing strategies based on analysis of customer churn propensity". Perhaps safety checks weren't necessary after all, as many furious landlords have argued over the years, and protecting revenue really is more important than preventing customers being blown to pieces. But I'm not sure everyone would agree.

The big problem faced by the government (or, more accurately, those that lobby the government) is that the untold benefits of tariff-switching are still a mystery to many customers, which is annoying to parts the industry. To help, in the words of Utility Week "the regulator’s idea of what constitutes 'simpler and clearer' has evolved" and so, though they still pretend to offer the famous 'four tariffs', those tariffs now differ according to where you live, how you pay, whether you take dual fuel, how much you fancy a fixed-rate bet, how long you want to be locked in, what penalties you'll accept for unlocking yourself, whether you want a rebate and if you're a shareholder. Which is neither clear nor simple. Especially when you consider that most of the 'savings' will only appear if the customer guesses better than the suppliers how prices will move in future. Given suppliers can hedge their risks in a way that customers can't, it's at best a very rigged lottery.

Nevertheless, it's still important that we switch and, if we have switched, to switch more often. This is because, as we've virtually no natural resources of our own, and most of our utilities are in offshore hands, the only current benefit to the economy comes through the comparison sites, who charge hefty fees, via the suppliers (which is why the cheapest deals can't be got through comparison sites). Stung by the challenge to help leverage the potential Ofgem recently authorised a new Central Registration Service (CRS), an offshoot of the Data and Communications Company (DCC - an inevitable tentacle of Capita), which will soon intermediate all switching, charging a cheerful "mix of ex-post and ex-ante fees", in a way described in a recent consultation response as 'confusing', once they've decided how it will work (and whether it's viable).

More vitally, the DCC, like Electralink, will be allowed to shiver like a spider in a massive web, connecting every meter to a central respository of monetizable data, available to all (save those that work out how to steal it) for a fee. Which, they're obviously hoping, will spawn such a revolution in whizzy startuppery that we'll never have to worry about the economy again.
Interesting posts including Burbage's above thank you. We have decided not to have a smart meter. We don't need it. It does not kill us to easily look on the meters and easily post results every so often to EDF via the easy online meter reading page. I am not about to get paranoid or OCD about putting a bit too much water than I need in the kettle when boiling it for two. How far down the road does one go when the price of every decision is there in front of you. Should I cook this or that if this uses less electricity according to the meter? Maybe just a salad tonight then....

So EDF are phoning and emailing me regularly and I am telling them every time NO NO NO and they are still not getting the message!

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I have a smart meter. The monitor is now in the cupboard. And since I changed suppliers , they can't read the meter remotely. Completely pointless. The government are driving a project fitting meters that are not able to cope with supplier changes (the new ones will apparently) the supplies have loads of these old style meters to shift and targets set by government in terms of number of smart meters to be installed. They should have waited until tecnogy has caught up.

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