back to article You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

The UK’s controversial smart meter programme will only succeed in saving consumers cash if people are made aware of the benefits, says Rob Smith, head of policy and public affairs at Smart Energy GB. Some 53 million smart meters are due to be installed in residences and small businesses by the end of 2020, at an estimated cost …

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  1. JetSetJim Silver badge
    FAIL

    > The UK’s controversial smart meter programme will only succeed in saving consumers cash if people are made aware of the benefits, says mouthpiece

    They've been bleating about this for ages, but I've yet to actually see anyone mention what the benefits (to me) are. Letting me know that my house is consuming xWatts at time T is not a benefit - it's just another readout I can do very little about.

    Remote meter reading is about the only thing that could credibly be touted as a benefit - but even that is a bit marginal seeing as my supplier will let me upload a photo of the meter as a reading - all through their "app" (all very trendy).

    1. Rich 2

      Pointless

      Completely agree I can't see any advantage to me at all in having one of these except possibly a time-related pricing scheme. Butt such a scheme is never going to save much (because the leccy company wouldn't want that) and who wants to have their washing machine rattling away in the middle of the night anyway? (yea ok - some people do).

      As for all the rubbish about doing away with estimated bills, you can send meter reading in on-line now anyway (as previously mentioned).

      I seriously question who (if anyone, including the leccy companies) will benefit from this?

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Pointless

        I seriously question who (if anyone, including the leccy companies) will benefit from this?

        The meter manufacturers and the fitting companies will do very well out of this thank you very much, as for domestic customers, not much.

        Non-domestic industrial, public and commercial customers however have had these for a while and as long as the data is accurate and of high enough resolution (at least half hour reading) they really can make a big difference to high consumption users.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pointless

        A truly 'smart' meter, acting in the consumer's interest, would be one that monitors all their changing tariffs and automatically switches supplier to the best deal every few minutes.

      3. Secman

        Re: Pointless

        > Butt [sic] such a scheme [time-related pricing] is never going to save much...

        New Zealand calling. I have a dumb meter. My dishwasher does dishes at about 25c/KWh.

        My son has a smart meter. He does his dishes at 4c/KWh.

        I'd say that's a decent saving, wouldn't you?

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Pointless

          New Zealand calling. I have a dumb meter. My dishwasher does dishes at about 25c/KWh.

          My son has a smart meter. He does his dishes at 4c/KWh.

          I'd say that's a decent saving, wouldn't you?

          Yes and no! Whilst your son is saving money (not that I would be grumbling if it were me), there is no change in the amount of energy consumed and thus no substantive change in lifestyle - even though I suspect your son is now running his dishwasher at some odd time of day.

          Which given a big factor in all this is climate change and our massive dependency on fossil fuels, has to be concerning...

        2. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Pointless

          My son has a smart meter. He does his dishes at 4c/KWh.

          I have SWMBO. I have no idea how much she costs per KWhr, but I'd rather have sex with her than an electric dishwasher :-)

          NB The Git does most of the cooking, grows the vegetables, provides the firewood for the cookstove/space heater and used to provide the meat as well, but we no longer keep sheep.

    2. Paul 25

      I want one, but only because our meters are in an awkward spot

      I'd like to never have to dig about in the under-stairs cupboard to take a meter reading, but that's the only real benefit I can see.

      In reality most people have limited scope for significantly reducing their electricity consumption unless they pointlessly leave everything turned on, and they clearly are not that bothered if they've not done the obvious.

      We've changed all the bulbs we can for LEDs, don't leave kit on when it's not used, and so on. I can't really see what else we can do. It's not as if I can heat the oven more efficiently.

      Even standby modes on modern kit is much better than it used to be.

      The silly amounts spent on this project could have gone on the solar feed in tarriff for a few more years and had far more effect on our energy supply.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Downvoted

        for even suggesting that solar power UK-style would have any effect other than siphoning money into peoples pockets.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Downvoted

          Probably the same numpty who downvoted a post from yesterday that suggested the PV arrays should be made compulsory for all new build houses.

          I'd really like to know their reasons why this is a bad idea. With new builds, the exta cost would be less than 2% on the sale price. Possibly even less. Over the lifetime of a mortgage it is pennies a month.

          1. Graham Cobb

            Re: Downvoted

            Of course it is a bad idea to make it compulsory. Location plays a big factor in whether solar is feasible/useful for any particular house, as well as the design and orientation of the roof. Personally I think it is likely to be of marginal benefit in most UK locations (especially taking into account ongoing costs such as maintenance, cleaning, etc).

            If you had said "make it compulsory to do an assessment for PV", that would be fine. It wouldn't be sensible to make it compulsory to actually install even if we were living in California!

          2. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: Downvoted pv panels

            Yes, you can get them cheap, but the feed in tariff doesn't seem economic any more.

            http://info.cat.org.uk/solarcalculator/

            The couple of times I've put info in here I get a payback time of longer than the expected lifespan of the array. What a waste of money

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Downvoted pv panels

              Yes, a waste of money in your case, you are unfortunate and frankly, too late.

              Assuming you have fair to good location, the gravy train pulled out at the beginning of the year. Its only southern UK south facing unshaded locations have any likelihood of generating a fair return now.

              1. JetSetJim Silver badge

                Re: Downvoted pv panels

                > the gravy train pulled out at the beginning of the year

                it was at least two years ago when the FIT dropped from lucrative to marginal

                1. handle

                  Re: Downvoted pv panels

                  "(especially taking into account ongoing costs such as maintenance, cleaning, etc)."

                  They don't need regular maintenance or cleaning or "etc", whatever that might be. I've had solar PV for 5 years now with no cleaning or maintenance whatsoever, no noticeable drop-off in performance, and my non ideally-situated 2.75kWp installation has generated more than 12MWh. From what I read, the capacitors in the inverter might die eventually, but so far so good.

                  1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                    Re: Downvoted pv panels

                    They don't need regular maintenance or cleaning or "etc", whatever that might be.

                    Not much in the way of bird life where you live then? Or are they just scared shitless? From the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy maintenance manual:

                    The most common maintenance task for solar modules is the cleaning of the glass area of the module

                    to remove excessive dirt.

                    ....

                    when working on roofs there is always the risk of falling. NEVER climb onto a roof to perform any service on the solar modules (eg. clean them) unless there is a barrier (eg. scaffolding) to prevent you from falling

                    I can understand you not wanting to climb on the roof, or spend on renting scaff, but not needing to I find a little difficult to believe.

                    Apropos the inverter, it should be good for 15 years, about 10 years less than the panels, but if one of your panels fails, don't think you can mix and match panels. A replacement panel in 10 years' time will likely need its own inverter.

                    1. handle

                      Re: Downvoted pv panels

                      Perhaps it's because I don't live in Australia that I never have to clean my solar panels, Pompous Git. Find it hard to believe by all means, but confirmation bias is a powerful thing, and judging by the unnecessary advice about working on roofs, it's not hard to guess your opinion on solar PV.

                      A replacement panel will have its own micro-inverter. They are a better than stringing panels in series because partial shading has a lesser effect, but 5 years ago they were not economical. The faulty panel can just be taken out of the string and and the existing inverter will work just fine with the remaining ones.

                      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                        Re: Downvoted pv panels

                        Find it hard to believe by all means, but confirmation bias is a powerful thing, and judging by the unnecessary advice about working on roofs, it's not hard to guess your opinion on solar PV.

                        Call it confirmation bias if you wish, but when the Gillard government was in power, there was a very high subsidy for installing solar PV so I had a quote prepared by one of the top three suppliers. In order to achieve the cost savings they claimed, the panels would need to have generated 140% of their rated output at our location. When I queried this with the supplier the silence was deafening, though they continued to send me their sales lit.

                        I did my own sums based on easily obtained information on the interwebs and came up with a time to payback of ~18 years. Choice's figure was ~16 years, but that was for Australia as a whole, not specifically southern Tasmania. Since then, the subsidy has shrunk and FITs have fallen so making them more costly to purchase and less economical to run. IOW time to break even is even closer to the anticipated 25 years of useful life.

                        You might consider the advice regarding safety on the roof "unnecessary", but your missus might disagree if you fail to take precautions and invalidate your insurance.

                        The panels with a built-in inverter were eyewateringly expensive when I did my sums and had a time to payback exceeding their anticipated lifespan. Nice to know the price has dropped.

                        Solar PV has a place, but not in an ordinary suburban setting.* I have a friend in rural New South Wales who was quoted ~AU40,000 to be connected to the grid. He installed solar PV and I think that was an entirely rational economic decision. Purchasing solar PV for The House of Steel was not economically rational.

                        I note that our electricity consumption is about 50% of what the supplier tells us is average for a household of our size. It's extremely well insulated and we use firewood for cooking, hot water and space heating. We consume about 9kg of LPG for cookery during hot weather.

                        * Voltage control of local supply of all electricity consumers is distorted by solar PV; the control systems are the other side of the local transformers. The issue has been discussed in publications aimed at electricians and electrical engineers who warned the government before the heavy subsidies distorted the market. This has led to the early demise of any number of electrical appliance: refrigerators, freezers, TV sets etc. The cost of replacing these is for some odd reason never factored in. Frankly, I'd be pretty pissed off if I had to replace my appliances far more frequently than necessary because my neighbour was stupid enough to believe the bullshit.

                        1. handle

                          Australia vs UK

                          @Pompous Git: I see that the base interest rate in Australia is currently 1.5%; in the UK it's 0.25%, making PV a correspondingly better investment compared with sticking your savings in a bank. And of course the tariff models are separate. But I didn't get PV just for financial reasons.

                          You also dis the technology on the grounds that it can raise your neighbours' voltage and blow their appliances. Yes, that might happen if there are two of you on the end of a long piece of damp string, but in my suburban setting it has no noticeable effect at all on the voltage, which I monitor at the most sensitive point - the inverter, as I have a low impedance supply. So you can't generalise, especially considering that the maximum power it has ever generated is about 3.5kW, which is scarcely more than a kettle. Putting on a kettle will reduce the voltage the same amount as full sun (with clouds around it, i.e. momentarily) will increase it. In addition, IIRC the distribution company has the right to refuse permission for you to connect if it thinks there is enough installed capacity in the area to cause an issue, but I would be interested to know how often this has happened, if ever.

                          You may not be aware that in the EU a simple fudge was made to harmonise the UK/IRL 240V with 220V elsewhere by mandating that all appliances must operate at 230V+6%-10%; this would not have happened if things would be upset too easily.

                          PS "MIssus"? How presumptuous!

                          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                            Re: Australia vs UK

                            @ handle

                            Putting money into the bank for a 1.5% return when investing in property returns between 10 and 20% is, to put it mildly, insane. Hint: I may be crazy, but I'm not insane ;-)

                            It's not so much The Git dissing the technology, but electrical engineers. The Git reads and draws conclusions. As I understand this, the solar PV arrays generate their maximum output when there's sod all consumption and the voltage for everyone in the vicinity rises. Appliances that are connected all the time, such as freezers and refrigerators, suffer a shortened life. Presumably this is the "smarts" part of modern appliances; motors tend to suffer from low rather than high voltage.

                            There are ever so many places in Australia (according to the journals aimed at engineers) that are no longer granting permits for solar PV for the very reason I cite.

                            I was not aware of the EU mandate, but would note that "being able to operate" isn't saying very much. There's a question of longevity. The Git was brought up to consider such things. There's a cost to purchase and ever so many people focus on that alone, but the real cost is the annualised cost over the lifetime of the purchase.

                            Then there's the embodied energy in the system. Solar PV is manufactured, not with renewable energy, but good old fashioned fossil fuels or nuclear. Since the electricity The Git consumes is generated by hydro-electric plant, installing solar PV would have increased his carbon footprint rather than decreasing it. As you say, you shouldn't generalise, but that doesn't stop people doing so. The Gillard government subsidised Tasmanians to increase their carbon footprint as a carbon emissions reduction measure and somehow that's "saving the planet"? Ya gotta laff!

                            Sorry for the presumption regarding the missus. Most blokes seem to have one though I notice that some of them are male.

                  2. PNGuinn Silver badge
                    Flame

                    Re: Downvoted pv panels

                    "the capacitors in the inverter might die eventually"

                    Ooh, that might be fun!

                    See icon>>

                    1. handle

                      Exploding capacitors

                      @PNGuinn: Ooh, that might be fun!

                      Probably not. The inverter is in a steel case with a very chunky aluminium heat sink on the front, so it would require quite a major conflagration for it to get out. And the capacitors are quite likely just to fail to capacitate, rather than go out in a blaze of glory.

                2. Pompous Git Silver badge

                  Re: Downvoted pv panels

                  it was at least two years ago when the FIT dropped from lucrative to marginal

                  And there's further to go yet. Spain Approves 'Sun Tax,' Discriminates Against Solar PV

                  President Obama has frequently told us that Spain should be a model for America in green technology and presumably the ROTW.

                  1. Chris G Silver badge

                    Re: Downvoted pv panels

                    @Mr Git. The two main power suppliers in Spain have had successive governments in their pockets for decades, as soon as any alternative power generation that wasn't theirs became a reality, they want it taxed or banned.

                    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                      Re: Downvoted pv panels

                      The two main power suppliers in Spain have had successive governments in their pockets for decades

                      And as I pointed out, Barack Obama finds this admirable. I don't.

              2. P. Lee Silver badge

                Re: Downvoted pv panels

                >Its only southern UK south facing unshaded locations have any likelihood of generating a fair return now.

                Possibly not even that. I understand that in Queensland, Oz, where solar seems makes sense, the power companies put up prices to compensate for the loss of revenue to solar.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Downvoted

            > I'd really like to know their reasons why this is a bad idea.

            Because when you take away the subsidies (which are paid by other consumers), they don't generate enough in their lifespan to pay for their purchase and installation cost.

            And when they're ubiquitous, those subsidies WILL get taken away.

            > With new builds, the exta cost would be less than 2% on the sale price.

            So you're saying I should pay extra money (which will never be earned back in the lifetime of the installation) because you think it's a good idea, rather than looking at the actual economics?

          4. AndrewDu

            Re: Downvoted

            PV arrays should not be installed on new build houses in the UK because they're useless at our latitudes.

            It doesn't matter how cheap the panels themselves get, the cost of the inverter gear, the problems of cleanliness and maintenance, and the hopelessly intermittent nature of the output (sunshine at night, anybody? Or any time between November and February?) means they will never be anything except a cost overall - though of course a nice little earner for the rich people in big houses who already installed them before the government woke up and cut the feed-in tarriffs.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Downvoted

              sunshine at night, anybody?

              Definitely! The Spaniards had a solar power plant generating electrickery 24 hours a day.

              Spanish newspaper El Mundo found that between November and January, 4500 megawatt hours (MWh) of solar energy were sold to the electricity grid between midnight and seven in the morning.

              It has been suggested that some plants in the regions of Castilla-La-Mancha, Canarias and Andalucía have been using diesel generators connected to their solar panel arrays to illegally benefit from government subsidies.

              Spanish nighttime solar energy fraud

              Definitely a nice little earner for the rich people...

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Downvoted

          Solar power UK style COULD be effective, PROVIDED you do NOT have a smart meter (they have a different feed in tariff that favours the energy company). A standard twisty wheel with pointers meter will run backward during feed-in. The digital readout electromech. meters won't, sadly.

          1. handle

            Backwards-running meters

            @Martin-73: "A standard twisty wheel with pointers meter will run backward during feed-in."

            A standard twisty wheel with pointers meter which doesn't have a ratchet will run backwards, but as soon as you register your PV installation (which you have to if you want any generation tariff), your electricity company will be very keen to change it for an electronic one.

            Incidentally, these dumb meters (or the one I have anyway) indicate on their displays if they have ever experienced reverse energy flow, presumably to detect fraud. The LED that flashes for every fraction of a kWh consumed also comes on steadily during periods of reverse energy flow.

      2. timnich

        Re: I want one, but only because our meters are in an awkward spot

        I used to be able to read the meter under the stairs by opening the door, bending slightly, and peering in. Now I have to get down on my knees, shuffle up to the meter and press a button 4 times.

        Aparently this is progress.

        Installing meters under the stairs, in the centre of properties in marginal mobile reception areas is to coin a phrase, an omnishambles.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I want one, but only because our meters are in an awkward spot

          "Installing meters under the stairs, in the centre of properties in marginal mobile reception areas is to coin a phrase, an omnishambles."

          Installing a remote display, outside, where the meter reader doesn't even need to knock, is more sensible.

      3. MrJOD
        Facepalm

        Re: I want one, but only because our meters are in an awkward spot

        You could always cook and eat your Sunday Roast at 3am.

    3. Chris 125

      But isn't the "fail" part there you, for failing to do anything about information given to you?

      I have my little readout thing visible - not in my face, but it's on a shelf and I can glance at it. If the light is red and the little graph is cranked around to the right, then I have a look what's been left on and turn it off. I'm maybe saving a few quid a week doing that as normally it's the 3KW immersion heater, as the switch is in a cupboard. Kids turn it on for a bath, then forget. I can also see the difference between using the gas water heating for 2 hours per day, vs the immersion for 30 mins.

      I'd be surprised if I don't save money by reacting to it in a timely manner rather than waiting for the bills to arrive, and looking at what my DD is for pervious years vs what I can see it using each day, it should be a decent three figure amount.

      Ironically, I don't even agree about the remote meter reading - mainly because for six months after the meter was installed, we still got requests for a manual read. Apparently npower have to set this up manually. That was the only PITA bit of the installation.....

      1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
        FAIL

        "readout thingy"

        Pleased to hear you got one. We've had a smart meter for about 8 months and in spite of numerous chases, still haven't received something that tells us what the smart meter is doing. PP

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        > But isn't the "fail" part there you, for failing to do anything about information given to you?

        Failing to? There's nothing that I can realistically do that will reduce my bill by any non-trivial amount:

        a) all my lighting is LED, and I still switch it off when I leave the room (hopefully not contributing to deterioration of lifetime of the LEDs)

        b) perhaps I can save a little turning off a few standby devices, but they're usually in the low numbers of W per hour anyway

        c) the main users of it in my house is the heating and hot water, which is driven by a heatpump and is already rather efficient and timed, combined with uber-insulation there is not much I can do there apart from shivering when I turn the room thermostats down (all living rooms individually controlled)

        d) I could conceivably turn off my wifi at night - but the only way to do that for me means my phones stop working. Arguable whether I need them, I suppose, but I don't think I'd use more than 1-2 kW in the whole night on those appliances.

        e) will not turn off fridge-freezer! All other appliances are at least A** rated (except a naughty tumble drier, which is a B I think). Not going to use them any less, and running a night-time cycle is impractical and will keep me awake with the noise

        Agreed, mileage may vary for different users with different appliances and usage patterns - I am in the fortunate position to have built my house recently, and it's very efficient overall. But I'd still contend that a "Smart meter" doesn't really tell you all that much that will help you save all that much money - particularly when compared to the cost of making and installing that smart meter.

        Personally, I think the energy industry would be better served by offering a service to analyse your usage and suggest ways of improving your consumption/reducing waste - in theory what the EPC/SAP stuff could do but doesn't very well. For example, tweak your heating settings, which is probably what would give me the biggest benefit if I'd left them on the default.

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Failing to? There's nothing that I can realistically do that will reduce my bill by any non-trivial amount...

          c) the main users of it in my house is the heating and hot water, which is driven by a heatpump and is already rather efficient and timed...

          I think this shows a lack of imagination and of familiarity than anything else. When I first moved in with my now wife in a tower block we cut our leccy bills by 20% doing nothing more than changing the heating to run 5:30-6:00 instead of 6:00-6:30 every morning. That was nothing more than old fashioned Economy 7. When widely roles out and differential pricing is widely adopted the possibilities escalate. So you don't want your washing machine running in the middle of the night? What about at lunchtime when you are not at home and electricity is dirt cheap thanks to low demand and high production thanks to all those solar panels?

          The opportunities are there when the entire system - meters, network, tariffs and appliances - is in place to support it. Focussing simply on the meter by itself is missing the point.

          1. Emperor Zarg
            Flame

            Some important fire safety advice

            I wouldn't normally take the role of fire warden, but... never leave your washing machine or tumble dryer running unattended or running overnight. They are one of the leading causes of domestic fires.

            I fear that any potential savings from smart meters could be easily offset by a significant increase in fires caused by people setting appliances to run when they are not in the house - or worse - when they are asleep.

            1. Tim Jenkins

              Re: Some important fire safety advice

              We are on economy 7 too, and do run the washing machine overnight. Quite agree with you about tumbledriers though; a 3 kilowatt heater full of lint is basically a time-fuse...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Some important fire safety advice

                Unless you sit and watch the tumble dryer, by the time you smell burning from another room a properly placed smoke alarm would be screeching away anyway.

                Generally find the lint from the current clothes being dried is pretty wet when using condensor dryers.

                Agree though that to go down the pub whilst the machine is on is probably not the best thing.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Some important fire safety advice

              You're not going to sit and watch a washing machine, just put a smoke alarm above it.

              I'm not sure about flooding though, although I haven't had a washing machine flood on me for years.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Are your WiFi devices built using old valve tech? (if they are, send me the circuit diagram, KTHX!)

          Holy crap! Your WiFi uses 1 - 2 kW of electricity in 1 night?

          That's..... let me get this right unless I've lost the plot.

          Your WiFi devices use between 1000 (ONE THOUSAND) to 2000 (TWO THOUSAND) WATTS of electricity in 1 (ONE) night??

          Even a 100W incandescent light bulb would only just chew through 1kW if you left it running on all night!

          (Hours of use may vary, but average hours of darkness at this time of year is between 8PM and 6AM)

          Shurely Shome Mishtake?

          1. handle

            Re: Are your WiFi devices built using old valve tech?

            Shurely the worse mistake is not to know the difference between power (kW) and energy (kWh).

          2. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: Are your WiFi devices built using old valve tech? (if they are, send he circuit diagram, KTHX!)

            Just not bothered to try and accurately add it up. 2 wifi ap's, 1 femto cell, 2 dependent switches, 3 dect phones, 1 nas. All on low numbers of watts over the night, so I just rolled that up and rounded gratuitously and probably didn't state units well. Even if I used 1kWh in the entire night for all that, that's 15p

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Are your WiFi devices built using old valve tech? (if they are, send he circuit diagram, KTHX!)

              "Even if I used 1kWh in the entire night for all that, that's 15p"

              Exactly! Most people really can't save much when all the standby devices consume, per night, the equivalent of the price difference of a single litre of fuel bought at a motorway services compared to the local filling station or supermarket.

        3. Martin an gof Silver badge
          Boffin

          a) all my lighting is LED, and I still switch it off when I leave the room (hopefully not contributing to deterioration of lifetime of the LEDs)

          It's not the LEDs you have to worry about - it's the power supplies crammed into tiny spaces. We have hundreds of the things at work and it's almost guaranteed that the PSU will give out way before the LED itself, and it's pot luck whether any particular lamp lasts longer left on, or turned off when not needed.

          I don't think I'd use more than 1-2 kW in the whole night on [WiFi]

          Assuming an access point rated at 25W, if you switch it off between (say) midnight and 8am you will save 8*25W = 200Wh (0.2kWh) of electricity, i.e. two tenths of a "unit". If you pay 15p per unit, that's a total saving of 3p per night. In reality 25W is likely to be a maximum; in-use average will be lower, and overnight when it's quiet average consumption may be a half that. YMMV of course.

          M.

        4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          WTF?

          " the main users of it in my house is the heating and hot water,"

          Indeed.

          As "Alternative energy without the hot air" pointed out solar water heating is one of the few things that always help in the UK, because it takes a lot of energy to heat water and solar water heating panels usually trap enough sunlight (and are insulated enough) to give some benefit.

          BTW wasn't this an EU thing?

          Brexit --> No mandatory smart meter installation ?

        5. Simon Harris Silver badge

          "I could conceivably turn off my wifi at night - but the only way to do that for me means my phones stop working. Arguable whether I need them, I suppose, but I don't think I'd use more than 1-2 kW in the whole night on those appliances."

          Sorry, but downvoted for confusing power with energy.

          Assuming you actually mean 1-2kWh, (120-240W assuming you have an 8-hour night), are you sure you're not providing wifi for the whole town?

          For comparison, the current highest speed Virgin hub requires a 12V 1.5A power supply, so allowing for inefficiencies in the converter, probably about 20-25W at the wall (that's 0.2kWh over night).

      3. JimboSmith Silver badge

        I had a power display from a clip on sensor to my incoming mains cable which British Gas sent me. It was interesting for a while to see what the difference was if I switched this off or that off but that novelty soon wore off. It could even tell me the cost of the electricity we'd used which again was nice for a while but the novelty didn't last. There's very little in the house that uses serious amounts of power that isn't contained in the kitchen/utility area and so easy to spot. I guess there's the hair drier but I think it's unlikely to leave that on as it's too noisy (no immersion heater as no water tank). We're on Economy 7 and do use the washing machine overnight so no savings there. I also don't have a problem with phoning in/sending in meter readings once a quarter (four times a year - is that really such a struggle for people?) and don't get estimated bills as a result.

        If I did succumb to the dark side and get one of these meters I can't really see any benefit and only the downside of having one.

        They're not Compulsory and for anyone who wants to double check that they're not see the following:

        http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/do-i-have-to-accept-a-smart-meter

        http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111129/text/111129w0004.htm

        Now personally I won't be taking one or two as (I mentioned above) I prefer giving my meter readings over the phone/web but the SmartEnergyGB website (https://www.smartenergygb.org/en/faqs) FAQ page has some wonderful insights/answers. For example

        ......What is a smart meter?

        ......Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed in homes across Great Britain at no extra cost, to replace the traditional meters, including prepay key meters, most of us currently have ticking away under the stairs, or outside our homes.

        Now call me cynical if you like but won't the cost of the meter and installation just get added to the bill they send me? It might not be that obvious they probably won't add a Smart Meter charge to my bill. It will probably just be that all the tariffs come with slightly higher prices. I just can't see the energy firms just stumping up for this roll out out of their own pockets. Smart Meters cost £340-£400 each I believe.

        So security:

        .......How secure are smart meters?

        .......The smart meter security system is very secure. Security has been at the heart of the whole smart meter rollout programme from its very inception and right through the design process. Smart meters have their own closed, dedicated communications system that employs technology widely used by, for example, the banking industry. Smart meters have been designed with top cyber security experts, including the government and GCHQ, to ensure that security best practice has been incorporated at every stage.

        Well Thank goodness for GCHQ then because according to an article on the inquirer.net (I couldn't find it on El Reg) the original plans for the meters had one single decryption key for all the meters.

        Now I may not be a top security boffin or even boffing a top security boffin but I do know that's not a really good idea. Apparently neither do GCHQ think it's big or clever as it was them who thankfully had things changed.

        http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2451793/gchq-intervenes-to-prevent-catastrophically-insecure-uk-smart-meter-plan

        ......What are the technical standards that smart meters have to meet?

        ......Smart meters are covered by strict UK and EU product safety laws. These ensure that smart meters all have the same high quality and safety standards, regardless of your energy supplier.

        So everyone is clear now on the technical standards after reading that? So we move on to:

        ......What health and safety tests have been carried out on smart meters?

        ......The smart meters used in Britain have undergone one of the most rigorous safety testing regimes in the world and exceed every UK and EU safety standard. Public Health England, the government's agency on public health, has said that exposure to radio waves from smart meters is well within guideline levels, and is many times lower than the exposure from wifi and mobile phones.

        So everyone is clear now on the exact health and safety tests after reading that? So we move on to:

        ......Does a smart meter mean my energy can be cut off more easily?

        ......No. You’re protected by strict regulations against your energy supplier switching off or disconnecting your gas or electricity supply. This protection remains as strong with smart meters as it is with traditional meters.

        So from that can I deduce that there won't be a provision in the meter to cut off the supply remotely? Well no I can't because it doesn't mention anything (technical or otherwise) about the ability of the people I pay for my energy (or some nefarious player) to remotely disconnect my supply.

        This has cock up written all over it and I won't be having it in my house thank you.

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