Smart Meters – not so “smart”?

You may have been offered one of these by your utility company, but should you get one or should you look a bit deeper into the heated debate that’s going on throughout the internet and beyond…..?

These so called “smart” meters are supposed to save you money because they observe exactly what energy you’re using and that’s what you have to pay for. No more estimated bills. No more over paying by hundreds of pounds until the company gets a correct meter reading….

But there seems to be a growing number of people who are concerned about what ELSE these “smart” contraptions can do. Some reckon that they’ll be able to monitor a lot more than just your energy use. Plus, as I’ve discovered when I filmed the controversial “Is Wi-fi making us ill?” story, there are some who say – like wifi and mobile phones – these machines will expose us to yet more dangerous radiation. And what’s more it will be “radiating” 24 hours. Every day. Of the year. No exception. Constant, pulsating, electrickery as Catweazle would’ve called it. Is that good for us?

Humans have always been zapped by electromagnetic energy from the sun. Then there’s the x-ray wavelengths that we’re exposed to when we visit airports and have some medical scans. Some have called x-rays “ionising” as  their very high energy means they have the potential to move electrons off molecules in DNA, which is believed, can lead to mutations and even cancer.

Then there’s radio waves, microwaves and radar/sonic waves. Some sailors said that the thermal effect from radar could make them infertile for 24 hours. That wasn’t always the case when they came to their shore leave…..

And of course there’s the ongoing debate about mobile phones, cordless phone bases, wifi routers and even baby monitors.

So if you think smart meters are good, then great. Save money, get them installed. But isn’t there just a nagging voice suggesting we should listen to what those flagging up the dangers are on about?

You may be contacted by your utility company telling you that you HAVE to have the meters installed, but it’s worth looking at what one of the more vociferous campaigns against the installation of smart meters has published on THAT subject….

What the UK Government says about our rights

Hansard, 29 November 2011, reflected the statement by Charles Hendry MP (former Energy minister) that whilst Energy suppliers will need to take “all reasonable steps to install smart meters for all domestic and smaller non-domestic customers by 2019″ – they:

“do not expect suppliers to seek an entry warrant simply to fit a smart meter and it will not be an offence for householders to refuse to accept a smart meter”.

An article from The Register in February of this year ( quoted Hendry as saying the following:

“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.”

And David Cameron’s Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Edward Davey MP, issued a public response to our campaign in which he stated the following:

“We believe smart meters will bring important benefits to consumers… However, there will not be a legal obligation on individuals to have one.”

And here is what the Electricity Act, 1989, says about your provider’s Duty to Connect on Request:
Here is what prominent consumer magazine Which? says about your rights:
What some energy firms are saying about our rights

Some of the comments we have heard from customer service reps from at least one Big Energy firm include the following:

“There’s a new law now in place forcing people to have a Smart Meter”
“You will be forced to have a Smart Meter”
“There is a Government mandate forcing everyone to have a Smart Meter by 2019″
“There is a law coming into place in 2019 that will force you to have a Smart Meter”
“Smart Meters don’t emit microwaves”
“Smart Meters do emit microwaves, but less than mobile phones”

These statements are false.  Don’t be surprised it they try them out on you.

– See more at:

I hope to be doing an investigation into this whole subject soon and in the meantime please let me know what you think. Is this another great example of 21st century innovation. Or is it worth another look at what the objectors are saying?

As the GP on the Somerset/Dorset border, Dr Andrew Tressider, told me when I filmed him on the whole wifi debate….

“There’s a presumption of no harm. For a long time tobacco was safe. For a long time asbestos was safe. For a long time lead in petrol was safe. For a long time hydrogenated fats and oils were safe. I think in 5 years time we’ll think ‘Oh my God there’s a major problem we haven’t been observing.’ ”


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7 thoughts on “Smart Meters – not so “smart”?

  1. From Which? –

    Can I refuse a smart meter?

    Yes you can, especially now that the official roll-out hasn’t even started. Smart meters are not mandatory.
    Even once the programme is in full roll-out, the EU directive has a target of 80% penetration for smart meters by 2020. So that leaves 20% who can refuse smart meters or for those installations that are too difficult.

    But beware that if your energy company has contacted you to change your energy meter to a smart meter because your current meter needs replacing (ie it’s too old), then you should get it replaced as it could be a safety hazard not to.

    You can refuse for the new meter to be a smart meter though and ask for a conventional ‘dumb’ meter instead. The company can’t force you to have a smart meter.

    What is a smart meter?

    Smart meters are a new version of the meter that records your household energy use.

    They are ‘smart’ because they will provide information about the energy you use directly to you or your supplier, without anyone having to read the meter, which should mean no more estimated bills.
    They should also help people better understand their consumption and they will provide the platform for time of use and smart grid going forward.

    Concerns with smart meters

    Some people have concerns about:

    Cost Estimated at £11bn, this will ultimately be passed on to customers

    Security & privacy Who can see your consumption data and what can they do with it?

    Health Concerns about radio frequencies and electric magnetic radiations produced

    Cross selling Being sold other products by the energy providers during installation

    Which? is concerned at how the government is handling the smart meter roll-out.

    As the roll-out will cost so much, we think the government needs to have a really tight control on how it’s handled, to ensure people aren’t left vulnerable to dodgy sales tactics, or left out of pocket if it ends up costing more.


    Having a smart meter is not mandatory

    There’s a risk that if you get a smart meter before the official roll-out that you’d have to get your smart meter changed again or upgraded

    It’s also likely that if you wanted to switch energy suppliers before everyone has a smart meter, you wouldn’t be able to use your meter in its smart mode

    If your energy company has contacted you to change to a smart meter because your current meter needs replacing, it could be a safety hazard not to – but you don’t HAVE to have a Smart Meter

  2. Thanks for alerting us with so many relevant facts – we will all be tracked even more, as the energy suppliers will know when we are out (not using much electricity) or when we are away – and will the information be sold on to a third party? Even more control in our lives.

  3. Thank you for posting this useful information Mike. I agree with Adele about consumers being tracked even more. The way things are going, there will be no privacy soon.

  4. Many thanks both Adele and Sue for reading the info and taking the time to post – it’s always a good idea to question what we’re told….

  5. Very interesting. Thank you. I didn’t know that we had a choice. I do remember your film about the Wi Fi refuseniks. All food for thought. Thank you too for the useful links in this article.

  6. Also having just read the Which article it does say that consumers have a choice about exactly how much information the energy provider can glean from the Smart meter should you choose to have one and that if they say you need one as your old meter is too old you can get a ‘dumb’ meter instead.

  7. thank you for your just shows you how they try to fill your mind with false information
    to push the home owner into switching to the smart meter. not to mention the fact that the costs of
    change over and other cost will be pushed onto the consumer.(now there’s a surprise.).

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