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Smart?Meters

 A path through electrosmog  
 

    If you were seeking to increase universal exposure to EM radiation, an emitter in every home would be the way to go. If, on the other hand, you are looking to reduce electrosmog in your life, you will have to grapple with smartmeters.


What are Smart Meters

Practicality and cost

Security and privacy

Health issues

Grappling with Smartness

 grid pyramid
     
   

What are smart meters

            ‘Smartness’ is entering our lives everywhichway, and generally implies microchips, information, and control. Smart Meters for electricity and gas provide real time data on power use to the Utility Company, and the possibility to limit, or cut, power passing through individual meters. Utilities will be able to charge different tariffs at different times, to detect power cuts, monitor power quality, to cut costs in meter reading, and provide accurate bills.

            Smart Meters are being introduced all over the Western world, with big programs begun in the US, Canada, and Australia. The UK rollout will be largest program yet undertaken worldwide, and the largest tech project in Europe, bar none.

            This is at the instigation of the EU, and driven in the UK by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, on the basis that energy consumption and carbon emissions will be reduced. How Smart Meters work in practice varies between countries and utilities, and will change over time. Resistance has been noted in other countries, and the UK is getting a thinned-down edge of the wedge, with rights to refuse, infrequent reporting options, and more data protection.

            In the UK they are being introduced with in-home display monitors, so the consumer can also see what they are using, and how much it is costing. This theoretically creates information and motivation for consumers to reduce electricity use in peak periods, so that less overall generation capacity is needed.

            Smart Meters are building blocks for ‘smart cities’, the ‘smart grid’, and the ‘internet of things’. Devices can be installed at each appliance, providing specific information and control over that appliance, or the overall power use can be analysed to remotely detect which appliances (down to individual light bulbs) are being used.

 
 softglow smartness
 
 smart planet
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Practicality and Cost

            Less-electric is all for reducing electricity use, but Smart Meters don’t actually achieve this very effectively. A current advert suggests we would discover, for example, that boiling the kettle equates to 4 hours of TV viewing. But just how easy would this be, without hours of controlled experiments? How many of us will realistically study our in-home displays and act on the information? A large study in Chicago discovered that only 9% of consumers acted on Smart Meter data, and overall energy reduction was found to be statistically insignificant.  

            The in-home display will provide some motivation to some people, but monitors can already be purchased for under £20, and don’t require a Smart Meter. The energy savings claimed to justify Smart Meters depend upon consumers being able to change habits, (such as running a dishwasher out of peak tariff times), but there is limited scope for such habit changes in practice. A public information campaign would surely be more cost effective.

 

        An Australian study showed domestic consumption was reduced by 3- 5%. This may be in part because annual price rises increased to cover meter installation costs, as shown in this table from Wikipedia:

 
smart meter use 
   

Annual meter charge increases with smart meter costs in 2010 and projections to 2017 ($) 

Distributor

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2015

2016 2017

SP AusNet

17.49

17.49

17.49

17.49

17.49

86.1

93.83

101.02

108.75

117.08

126.04

United Energy Distribution

6.60

6.60

6.60

6.60

6.60

69.21

89.18

99.57

107.62

116.33

125.73

Jemena Electricity Networks

12.87

12.87

12.87

12.87

12.87

134.63

136.7

155.84

159.86

162.34

164.88

Citipower

15.20

15.20

15.20

15.20

15.20

104.79

108.4

93.38

95.26

97.17

99.13

Powercor

17.20

17.20

17.20

17.20

17.20

96.67

105.35

92.72

93.91

95.12

96.34

 
 

 

In Canada, a one-year study by Toronto Hydro showed that following Smart Meter installation, 80% of people’s bills increased – often by more than 50%.

“Consumers will have to pay suppliers for the costs of installing and operating smart meters through their energy bills and no transparent mechanism presently exists for ensuring savings to the supplier are passed on. The track record of energy companies to date does not inspire confidence that this will happen."      UK Public Accounts Committee 2012

            Around 30 million Smart Meters are to be installed in the UK by 2020, at a cost estimated at £12 billion (that averages £400 per meter). Government estimates savings of £25 per home/year, assuming consumers change habits sufficiently. This hardly amounts to a compelling economic case.

smart meter price increase
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Security and privacy

Smart Meters are, by definition, surveillance devices.

            "Smart meters are a step towards our homes becoming the next line of attack for state snoopers" – Big Brother Watch

            The UK Government has put in rules ‘to put consumers in control of Smart Meter data’, but it remains to be seen if these rules will be changed, or respected long term. There are concerns over criminal hacking of data, vulnerability of the grid to cyber attack and solar flares, profiling for commercial purposes, and the basic reliability of such a complex system.

Describing the ‘internet of things’ former CIA Director David Petraeus says that

            "…items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled…that would transform the art of spying and allow people to be monitored automatically without planting bugs or direct infiltration"

 
internet of things
 


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Health Issues

            Sleep disturbance, anxiety, headaches, ringing in the ears, and nausea are typical symptoms of Smart Meter installation reported by sensitive individuals in the US. We are not all equally sensitive to EMFs, or don’t identify cause and effect, but are all likely to be effected to some extent. The Bioinitiative Report documents much evidence for adverse health effects from EMFs.

            Smart Meters transmit to the utilities in short, high power, bursts of pulsed microwaves. High power is needed to get the data through potentially several house walls and some distance to a base station. Averaged out over time, this amounts to less overall exposure than most people get from mobile phones, but such high power pulsed radiation is considered potentially more biologically harmful than continuous low levels. We may well be exposed to radiation from neighbours’ meters, particularly in multi-occupancy buildings, and this is all in addition to existing exposure from other sources.

            They will also interact wirelessly with the in-home display, and, when fully implemented, with appliances within the property, penetrating walls at around 2.5 GHz.

            The worlds’ largest Smart Meter deployment so far, in Italy, was hardwired, demonstrating that wireless devices are not essential. Electrosmog is needed, however, to power the ‘internet of things’.

 
EMF everywhere
 


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Grappling with smartness

            Resisting the agenda of the EU, the UK government, and your Utility supplier may seem daunting, but the whole Smart Meter project is a house of cards:

             built on the disputed theory of man-made global warming climate change; implemented by reluctant Utilities; with borderline, if any, consumer and environmental benefits; and big question marks over security, privacy, and health.

 A small but firm public resistance may just de-rail the whole project. Leading campaigners are Stopsmartmeters.org.uk and their site provides a wealth of information and tools for resistance. Mastsanity also have a page on the subject: http://www.mastsanity.org/info-guides-/smart-meters.html

Switch to another provider not yet introducing Smart Meters in your area, letting both providers know why you have switched.

Opt out. We have a legal right to decline, but the Utility Company will try to pressure and re-assure us, and may impose a financial penalty for opting out. However,  “… there will not be a legal obligation to have [a Smart Meter]” – Secretary of State for Energy.

            If you are a tenant, with utility bills not included in the rent, you (rather than your landlord) have the right to refuse. It will be much harder to have a Smart Meter removed once it has been installed, and after a few years of moving house, analogue meters will be few and far between.

Opt for least frequent reporting to Utilities. While monthly reporting may seem harmless (compared to the near continuous emissions implemented in other countries), this may not be an option down the line as smart meters are ‘upgraded’ to manage our home energy use.

                        “The gas and water data may be sent between one and several times a week. However, the electricity usage data may be transmitted every few minutes or even seconds at peak usage times. This means that these intense pulses of microwave radiation (900MHz) can be emitted tens of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of times a day. A British Gas ‘Smart’ Meter we have measured emitted 43,200 pulses per day.” Stopsmartmeters.org.uk

Opt for minimum data sharing.

Decline the in-home monitor, or ensure emissions can be switched off at the meter when the monitor is not in use.

Keeping a health diary is suggested by some US campaigners, and could be useful in legal action down the line.

MW shielding fabrics can be wrapped around meters (leaving an opening to direct radiation out of the house), and strategically placed to deflect exposure from living spaces.

house of cards
 opting out
protest and survive



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