MYTHBUSTING SMART METER PROBLEMS & ISSUES
From whether smart meters let you switch energy suppliers to whether they pose a risk to health, we set the record straight on the key concerns.
1. 'YOU CAN'T SWITCH SUPPLIER'
You can switch energy supplier with a smart meter. And with a new second-generation meter, you will be able to switch and keep all of your smart functions with no interruption.
If you have an older, first-generation smart meter, there’s a chance it will lose some smart functions for a little while but you can still switch energy supplier. Many people with one of these meters will have a seamless switching experience, but others may have to temporarily send meter readings again.
This can be frustrating, but your meter will still continue to accurately measure your usage as before, even if your in-home display may temporarily not show it.
• Find out more: It’s quick and easy to change supplier with a smart meter.
2. 'SMART METERS POSE A RADIATION RISK'
Smart meters use short bursts of radio waves to allow readings to be taken remotely from gas and electricity meters. Some people fear that the radiation they emit is a health risk, but Public Health England (PHE) – the Government watchdog on public health – says they pose no risk to public health.
As Dr Azadeh Peyman, principal radiation protection scientist at PHE, says: “We don’t consider that concerns regarding exposure should prevent people from having a smart meter.” She also says that “the level of radio waves they (smart meters) produce is typically one million times less than the internationally agreed guidelines.”
• For more information, see our full article on Smart meters and your health: the truth.
Anything with an electrical current will give off an EMF reading…
A smart meter, or an analogue meter, or your vacuum cleaner, or your microwave, or your mobile phone, or even your kettle.
None of these are dangerous to your health.
Smart meters are as safe as your toothbrush.
3. 'SMART METERS AREN'T SAFE'
Smart meters comply with UK and EU safety standards, and are fitted by trained installers.
When fitting a smart meter, installers will also perform visual safety checks to identify signs of risk in your gas appliances, at no extra cost. In fact, more than 635,000 unsafe situations unrelated to smart meters were identified by installers in 2017 and 2018 combined.
• For fuller detail, take a look at Smart meters are safe and reliable.
4. 'SMART METERS CAN SPY ON YOU'
A smart meter neither sees nor hears; it can only measure the amount of gas and electricity you use. And it’s up to you to decide how often you share your meter readings with your energy supplier, ranging from half-hourly, daily or monthly.
Personal details, such as your name, address and bank account details are neither stored on nor transmitted by your smart meter. Plus, your supplier can’t use any data from your smart meter for sales and marketing purposes unless you give them permission to do so.
Smart meters were designed in consultation with the UK’s top security experts. They’re not connected to the internet – instead, they operate on their own secure wireless smart data network. Your energy readings are encrypted and sent to your supplier in a similar way to how your mobile phone sends and receives information.
5. 'NOT ALL HOMES CAN HAVE A SMART METER'
Older first-generation smart meters (SMETS1) use a SIM card to communicate with energy suppliers via mobile phone networks. So if you live in an area with poor mobile reception, a SMETS1 meter may struggle sending readings to your supplier automatically.
The new second-generation meters (SMETS2), on the other hand, operate on a new smart data network which isn’t reliant upon mobile phones. This new network will cover more than 99.25% of Great Britain by the end of rollout.
If you have a SMETS1 meter, these will either be migrated into the new smart data network or replaced with a SMETS2 meter by the end of the rollout. This process has begun and is being completed in batches, and you can ask your supplier about when it expects to do this.
6. 'RENTERS CAN'T GET A SMART METER'
The gas and electricity meter in your home belongs to your energy supplier, and if you pay the bills you’re entitled to ask it for a smart meter. However, Ofgem recommends telling your landlord before getting one, just in case there are any rules in your tenancy agreement about how energy is supplied to the property.
If you’re a landlord and you pay the energy bills directly for your tenants and are the account holder, you’ll be the one to confirm the energy supplier’s request to install a new smart meter in your property. You’re also entitled to request a smart meter for your property from your supplier.• Smart meters have lots of benefits. To find out what these are, read our articles on personal benefits as well as national gains.
7. 'SMART METERS ARE NOT ACCESSIBLE FOR THE BLIND OR PARTIALLY SIGHTED'
An ‘accessible’ in-home display with additional features has been developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and includes features such as large buttons and text-to-speech functionality.
The accessible in-home display has been developed to allow more customers, including those who are blind or partially sighted, to access the benefits of smart metering, such as helping consumers understand and reduce their energy consumption and costs.
Depending on the severity of the condition, some people may find that the accessible in-home display meets their needs better than a regular in-home display.• Find out more: The accessible in-home display.