Smart Meters - not such a smart idea?
I was interested to learn from the January Lych Gate (p8) that smart meters are now being promoted to off mains gas residents in Berkshire.
Interested, but not very pleased. I've heard the 'Gaz and Leccy' ads umpteen times on the radio, and we're promised that we can 'get them under control' with smart meters. Gaz of course isn't a problem in our village at the moment (except by his total absence), but what about Leccy?
Most of us know which things use a lot of electricity - kettles, toasters, and especially fires - and don't need a smart meter to tell us. Saving money is simply a matter of being careful not to use lights and appliances unnecessarily, at the same time avoiding waste through leaving doors and windows open, or boiling too much water. I really don't need to know the minute-by-minute cost, and indeed I'd rather not. I suspect that when the novelty of having a smart meter has worn off, we shall scarcely glance at it.
OK, so smart meters mean no more estimated bills. Big deal! My supplier's estimates are usually pretty accurate, and in any case it only takes a minute or two to submit the correct reading online or by phone.
Smart Energy GB would have us believe that everything in the garden is lovely: I fear it's not. Although there is no upfront charge for installing a smart meter, it's clear that energy companies will recoup the cost via an increase in tariffs, and there is absolutely no guarantee that they will subsequently pass on the savings from not having to send meter readers round. (And will those people be found alternative employment?)
My biggest concern, however, is data security and invasion of privacy. Has it struck you as odd that The Government is urging this rollout, and not simply leaving it to the energy firms to make a commercial decision? What are they planning to do with the information? Worse still, what about those who could discover what time we get up and go to bed, what appliances we use, and when we are at home or away?
I foresee an increase in junk emails and burglaries… even remote disconnection is a possibility. Don't tell me it'll all be totally secure: in the last three years major security breaches have been suffered by Tesco Bank, Three Mobile, Sports Direct, Sage, TalkTalk, Morrisons (publication of their entire payroll), Twitter and Spotify. Going back a little further, Adobe, Sony Playstation and Yahoo can be added to the list. And the most technically advanced security system can be brought crashing down by a handful of rogue insiders.
I'll control Leccy my own way, thank you.