If you don’t have one already, utility companies plan to install a smart meter in your home by 2020. Smart meters allow them to dispense with home visits to read meters, because all the information they need is sent to them over the GSM (mobile phone) network.
Smart meters collect information about your gas and electricity consumption hour by hour, so they can tell exactly what you are using at any time of the day or night. For power generating companies this makes it easier to regulate power production and storage and meet demand efficiently.
The government believes it will reduce carbon emissions and help meet climate change targets. For householders, the benefits include an end to those annoying “estimated” bills. The new meters can also help you monitor your expenditure closely – important in these times of high energy costs.
How Do You Get One?
Smart meters are installed for free. In most cases all you have to do is contact your energy supplier.
Many households will not be able to get one straight away. There has been a waiting list for meters and for the installers to catch up. Those with certain types of electricity account may have to wait longer too. For example, there are sometimes technical issues if your existing meter is prepayment or Eco 20:20.
Getting your meter exchanged means taking a day off work. There have also been reports of boiler problems after meters are changed. If you have concerns about this, speak to http://greenplanetheating.org/ who offer Boiler Installation Forest Of Dean way.
A common complaint is that smart meters are too complicated to understand and their keypads too tiny to use. Hopefully, later designs will improve, but there are more serious concerns too.
One is the growing level of microwave radiation to which the public is exposed, and smart meters add to it. However, energy companies claim it is a small addition to that already emitted by computers, mobile phones, microwave ovens and radar.
Privacy and security is another worry. In the wrong hands information from your meter could alert thieves to when you are away from home, or even if you’re using certain appliances in your home. You have a right to restrict your energy company from sharing information about you, but it’s unclear what protections there are against illegal snooping.