back to article Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

Parliamentarians are set to haul civil servants in for a grilling after the National Audit Office (NAO) confirmed the UK will miss its 2020 smart meter rollout target, piling an extra £500m onto the cost of the £11bn project. The NAO said in a report issued this morning: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    Home security problem

    this they never talk about.

    If my lekky usage is uploaded somewhere every 15 minutes then it will be easy for someone to make a guess if I am at home or not. All it takes is a cash strapped sysadmin to write a query that looks for homes where usage dropped sharply 2-3 days ago, pass the addresses on to his mate Burglar Bill as candidates for people away on holiday.

    Wake me up when these things have a householder option to delay the sending of usage by a fortnight.

    1. Paul Hargreaves

      Re: Home security problem

      I assume you've got something that keeps your internet traffic running in roughly the same cycles when you're away as well?

      Plus you leave your mobiles at home when you go on hols so that the local towers still log where you are?

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Home security problem

        “I assume you've got something that keeps your internet traffic running in roughly the same cycles when you're away as well?”

        Yes, it is called Windows Update

      2. Richard 51

        Re: Working as intended

        and don't put on facebook/snapchat that you are on holiday

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Working as intended

          "and don't put on facebook/snapchat that you are on holiday"

          Even better: don't have facebook/snapchat et al....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sneering, but you know who's to blame for this?

      #hashtags Amber Rudd.

      It all stems from when she was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (2016), she pressed ahead with this when all the indications said not to.

      #hashtags Amber Rudd is now the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, she's pressing ahead with the rollout of Universal Credit when all the indications say not to, on the back of an incredulous comment that she too, was a struggling single mother bringing up two children, yet even her ex-husband described her as the 'silver spoon'. (i.e. born with a silver spoon in your mouth).

      She's a now discredited mouthpiece of utter conjecture, she was then, she is now, trouble is Theresa May needs her protection minder back, so who are we to question the suitability of Amber Rudd?

      Sneering yes, but bloody hell, sometimes we need to. Utterly useless.

      1. EBG

        OK, but why ....

        ...one-headed stupidity does occur in a vacuum. This is driven by the climate change / decarbonisation targets. Smart meters open the door to "demand management" - rationing, if you want a more traditional word. The targets are near impossible to meet, so the politicians are in no position to turn down anything that claims it can help meet them, irrrespective of the downsides.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: OK, but why ....

          I never understood how this was supposed to work.

          I've got nothing against something that pauses certain electricity uses until later - storage heaters, obviously, but maybe also freezers, washing machines, etc.

          However, how's it supposed to work through a meter that's only got control of the whole house ? Thanks, but I don't want my CPAP machine turned off along with everything else because it would be convenient to run it during the afternoon instead. Or my dishes washed after the meal, that I had to eat with dirty plates (I cook on gas).

          The original 'smart meter' concept was one that negotiated the best price amongst several suppliers and bought the next hour's use from a preferred supplier. It seems to have mutated into something locked into a single supplier and providing a level of control that only permits a reduction in cost of meter reading and a cheap easy cutoff if the bill isn't paid. There's only one entity I can see gaining from this.

          Even the meter reading cost argument is ridiculous. Pay by capacity, not by usage. Far cheaper to administrate - you just rent a sealed fuse of a specific size.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: OK, but why ....

            "

            Even the meter reading cost argument is ridiculous. Pay by capacity, not by usage. Far cheaper to administrate - you just rent a sealed fuse of a specific size.

            "

            I can't see that is at all practical or fair. It would be pretty easy to have a high-power battery powered invertor to allow large peak loads even if on a low current supply. A 5 amp supply will allow you to use nearly 30kWh per day, and few households us that much 'lekky (unless they own an electric car).

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: OK, but why ....

            While I will cheerfully agree that the UK rollout is highly stupid - clearly designed by and for the benefit of the big, incumbent retailers - there is a also a colossal amount of the most ridiculous FUD on this topic.

            Security? As already pointed out, there is nothing of value to a burglar in tracking your electricity usage. There are easier, and more reliable, ways to find out who's not home.

            Load control? Unless the rollout is even dumber than I've heard, that's not done by cutting off power at the meter. It's done by selectively cutting off individual major loads, usually an immersion heater. The rest of the house remains powered.

            Disconnection? Covered by the same regulations no matter what kind of meter you have. Sure, they can be changed, but that's always been true and always will be. There is no reason to imagine that smart meters will make a difference, except that they make it much faster to get reconnected.

            Power consumption? A smart meter uses a fraction of the power of your mobile phone. Your old mechanical meter probably used more.

            If you want to complain, forget all this FUD. It's just noise, and everyone who knows anything about the subject knows it, so as soon as you start talking about it you mark yourself as someone who can be ignored. Talk instead about the decision to put the rollout in the hands of the retailers, and not even stipulate that they must stick to common standards of communication and encryption. That's what has given the UK the unpardonable situation where meters can be used as a barrier to competition. The correct solution was to give metering responsibility to some third party, whether govt-run or private sector, who are required to deal with all retailers on a FAND basis.

            1. Persona

              Re: OK, but why ....

              @veti

              "Load control? Unless the rollout is even dumber than I've heard, that's not done by cutting off power at the meter. It's done by selectively cutting off individual major loads, usually an immersion heater."

              How could it possibly do that? The smart meter in on the wires coming from the company fuses and going into the consumer unit. It's all or nothing. You would need a smart consumer unit to selectively cut power to individual circuits.

              All a smart meter can do (in the future) is allow power to be bought with an expensive high reliability tariff or a cheaper low reliability tarif that gets turned off when power demand exceeds supply.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: OK, but why ....

                "You would need a smart consumer unit to selectively cut power to individual circuits."

                And some pretty major re-wiring. Most UK houses have five circuits. A ring main and lighting ring for ground and 1st floors and a separate spur for a cooker.

            2. RyszrdG

              Lies, dammned lies and government promises

              When the government tries to give you something "for nothing" you had better check the small print (or count your fingers). Having chosen the most expensive and risky option the government needed to construct a reason for the public to buy into the idea, hence the risible savings idea. Everyone including the government and suppliers can see that this is nonsense but they don't know how to stop the programme having spent so much of the budget without achieving any meaningful result. Their mindset only allows them to plough on regardless - how many programmes have we seen in this position? It needs balls of steel (sorry Theresa, Rudd et al) to stop this nonsense and given the example of the Brexit show I doubt it could ever happen, short of war.

            3. Killing Time

              Re: OK, but why ....

              @Veti

              'Talk instead about the decision to put the rollout in the hands of the retailers, '

              That was possibly driven by the fact that the retailers stand to gain by the introduction.

              Access to consumption data in close to real time reduces their financial risk. Allowing them to balance their finances over a shorter period than a three monthly meter reading cycle ( probably closer to five months by the time they collate all the manual readings).

              It surprised me they didn't farm the work out to the DNO ( The company that handles the final connection to the home/business). Historically they held responsibility for the metering as they hold responsibility up to the 'supply tails' into your consumer unit. Collectively, they must have wanted too much to implement the change.

              Regarding the protocols? Yeah what a f@*k up.

          3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: OK, but why ....

            "Even the meter reading cost argument is ridiculous. Pay by capacity, not by usage. Far cheaper to administrate - you just rent a sealed fuse of a specific size."

            I downvoted that because, tbh, someone so utterly ignorant of how the electrical distribution system works really should think twice before commenting about it.

            (a) Fuses are not current limiters, except in an extremely brutal one off way.

            (b) Our average consumption is around 1A. Our peak consumption for the short period that the cooker is heating up, if everything else is going, is around 40A.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: OK, but why ....

              these meters are utterly useless and ive actively told both the rollout board and our provider to basically fuck off and stop bothering me. It benefits me in precisely zero ways. I dont care how much I am using. Im not turning my router or web server off, i have has heating and a tumble drier that goes on when i can be here rather than schedule when im not and could catch fire without noticing. I have LED lights and know what my usage is monthly. Smart meters are an utter waste of money.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: pricing by capacity (kW) vs usage (kWh)

              I have seen it suggested that (some?) residential Italian electricity supplies work like this - customer pays an agreed fixed amount for an agreed fixed supply capacity (enforcement mechanism wasn't clear - as you point out, traditional fuses make little sense for this unless the capacity is remarkably small). I'd be interested to hear confirmation or correction.

              Regardless, if the cost of meter reading (and associated admin and maintenance) is a significant part of the cost of supply (as it allegedly is in the UK) then why not offer small scale users the option of a fixed capacity supply and forget about metering of usage. This might be particularly interesting in areas where electricity hasn't been much used for heating (space heating or hot water or cooking) because some alternative has generally been more appropriate.

              Obviously it could never happen in today's UK as such a concept could make it possible to eliminate a large number of valuable paperpushing and accounting roles, and we can't have that happening in England can we.

              But in some places and for some use cases it might make some kind of sense, maybe?

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: OK, but why ....

            I don't want my leccy turned off on a whim so as I have my own generator (5kW of Solar Panels) I've put together a home grown battery system using 12v Car Batteries. It means that I can go without mains leccy for a couple of days and the contents of the freezer won't go off.

            I'll get a 30kW battery late next year when I get an Electric Car. If I could I'd give two fingers to the Power Companies. Then they can stick their so-called smart meter up where it hurts.

            1. Killing Time

              Re: OK, but why ....

              Be careful around those batteries, mind they don't short out on your tin foil hat.....

      2. MOV r0,r0

        Re: I'm sneering, but you know who's to blame for this?

        I totally get that you dislike Amber Rudd (me too!) but smart meters are an EU wheeze leapt upon by Ed Miliband's Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Minister of State for Energy at that time was Mike O'Brien who told the Telegraph in July of his that, "After a while I barely looked at it, didn't use it. We got rid of it."

        I think he meant the 'in home device' rather than the meter - him not knowing the difference wouldn't surprise me given that he, not Amber Rudd, is largely responsible for the present mess. OTOH he's no longer MP for North Warwickshire so perhaps he has ripped his meter out and is cultivating something entirely different to the usual Westminster disdain for voters.

        1. streaky Silver badge

          Re: I'm sneering, but you know who's to blame for this?

          smart meters are an EU wheeze leapt upon by Ed Miliband's Department of Energy and Climate Change

          They're explicitly required by EU law - I'm still not sure if it's good or bad that we're miles ahead of Germany on this. The problem with it is the desperate panic with which the whole thing was rolled out - it's led to many problems. Personally speaking we love ours, it's solved many many problems that we had before (related mostly to our meter being installed within our flat and we broke their [the energy company's] system for self-reporting meter readings and shocking issues with bill estimation). Does it save energy? Probably not, it will for anybody who really doesn't understand where their energy use is going but otherwise it won't. For some it'll be nothing, for others it'll be probably be hundreds a year. The other issue is now there's a standard they're sitting on the new standard compatible meters and still trying to push the old ones out the door and nobody wants them because they have supplier-switching issues which of course is exactly what suppliers want - IMHO they should have all been prosecuted under competition law but what is a person to do?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: kippers know who's to blame for this?

            "[smart meters] are explicitly required by EU law "

            O'really? Citation welcome. Bear in mind that a definitive-looking citation (including extract) that contradicts your oft-repeated (but wrong?) claim has already been posted here.

            Meanwhile, keep on kippering on.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm sneering, but you know who's to blame for this?

            Required by EU law? I live in the Netherlands and know I can choose to have one or not. I also know I can choose the reporting period (from some lowish value to never).

            1. A.P. Veening

              Required by EU law?

              Part of the traditional Whitehall blame shifting, the one single reason a majority voted for Brexit while the correct response would have been to clean house in Whitehall.

            2. dutchie68

              Re: I'm sneering, but you know who's to blame for this?

              I think the UK is one of the few countries that followed the EU direction on this, which is bizarre.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Home security problem

      I ring your doorbell.

      Bang, I instantly know if you're at home or not*.

      (*unless it's the 31st October).

      This is really a dubious concern anyway. My house pulls electric at all times of the day, throughout the day, whether I'm there or not. It'd be a CINCH however for a mobile telecommunications operator to tell you whether I was at my registered address or not.

      And probably most people give their details away to an airport car park every time they go on holiday and park in the long-stay car parks.

      It's really a null concern. If your house is insecure, secure it. If someone's gonna break in, it's not gonna be some highly-targeted affair. And if someone breaks in, your alarm is bog-useless too (have it notify you, or it's just pointless - only you know if it SHOULD be going off, and only you care about someone burgling you, and only YOU should need to deal with false alarms).

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        Lee D. You ring my doorbell all you know is you're on my doorstep. I dont answer the phone or doorbell unless I feel like it, and you look worth talking to.

        1. Gonzo wizard
          Facepalm

          Re: Home security problem

          "I dont answer the phone or doorbell unless I feel like it" - I know somebody who used to do this. Until one night, a couple of minutes after the doorbell went, the front door was kicked in in an attempt to steal keys for the car parked outside. About 11:30 at night when all the lights were off.

          He always answers the door now. Or at least turns a light on and sticks his head out of the window.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        If someone's gonna break in, it's not gonna be some highly-targeted affair.

        That's true. Half of all domestic burglaries are carried out by a local smackhead, desperate for cash, and jewellery or electronics which can be traded for the next fix or three. The cops almost always know who to go and shake, because the average town has a dozen heroin addicts per 100,000 population with two of them usually active thieves at any one time (the rest are either in jail or doing their best to get clean, or both, though with a dismally high failure rate).

        I got burgled twice in the late 90s. The cops caught one culprit as the result of an investigation into a more serious crime, and he reportedly asked for 40 other offences (all domestic burglaries) to be taken into consideration.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Home security problem

          "and he reportedly asked for 40 other offences (all domestic burglaries) to be taken into consideration."

          All that means is he "co-operated" in their clear up rates. I doubt they looked all that closely into whether he actually did all of them. It could be true, of course.

      3. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        I ring your doorbell.

        Bang, I instantly know if you're at home or not*.

        But if you want to ring doorbells:

        * you need to walk around the streets, guess where lights are 'just left on', press & wait. Takes time

        * you might be noticed going from house to house

        Have someone sell you a list of candidate on-holidays is much safer & faster.

        Yes: there are other ways of guessing that I am away, but it does not mean that we should not add another one.

      4. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        I ring your doorbell.

        Bang, I instantly know if you're at home or not*.

        Google "millennial doorbell" and once you've finished laughing, report back.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Home security problem

          Google "millennial doorbell" and once you've finished laughing, report back.

          Mumsnet is full of women who never answer the doorbell unless they know in advance who is calling. Mind you, Mumsnet is also full of women with anxiety whose mothers are narcissists, whose children have ASD, ADHD and ODD (Bingo!) and whose husbands, sensible chaps, have long since done a runner.

          1. Tim Jenkins

            Re: Home security problem

            "Mind you, Mumsnet is also full of women with anxiety whose mothers are narcissists, whose children have ASD, ADHD and ODD (Bingo!) and whose husbands, sensible chaps, have long since done a runner."

            I'll think you'll find you don't win Mumsnet Bingo unless your husband has changed gender and is now your best friend....

      5. chucklepie

        Re: Home security problem

        I have an IoT doorbell, I can answer it from Barbados.

    4. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Home security problem

      "Wake me up when these things have a householder option to delay the sending of usage by a fortnight."

      All it'll take is a cash-strapped sysadmin to check who hasn't sent it a usage report for a while.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        "All it'll take is a cash-strapped sysadmin..."

        Tautology alert!

    5. Oddlegs

      Re: Home security problem

      Given that mobile companies have known precisely where you are for at least 20 years we must be living through an epidemic of highly targeted burglaries right? Right??

      Of all of the reasons to dislike smart meters (and there are several) this must be one of the most ludicrous.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Home security problem

      Worry more then about your smart water meter. Do you know anyone who doesn't flush a bog within an hour of falling out of bed in the morning?

      1. Keith 12

        Re: Home security problem

        "Worry more then about your smart water meter. Do you know anyone who doesn't flush a bog within an hour of falling out of bed in the morning?."

        I'd be a bit concerned if i saw someone lying face down, for an hour, at the beginning of our driveway with his head looking down the 5 feet or so distance to the meter waiting for the crapper to flush....

      2. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        Do you know anyone who doesn't flush a bog within an hour of falling out of bed in the morning?

        That might not register. Some people have alternative sources of water to flush the loo. In my case, when I empty the dehumidifier. Doesn't happen every day, but often enough to be at home without using that flush from time to time.

        In any case, isn't the discussion based on a false premise? The OP's premise appears to be Debunked here.

        Other countries seem to be spending much less and achieving much more rollout. Which suggests the problems we have arise from our system rather than anything inherent in the technology.

      3. Bert 1

        Re: Home security problem

        "Do you know anyone who doesn't flush a bog within an hour of falling out of bed in the morning?"

        Yes! My Kids :-(

    7. adnim Silver badge

      Re: Home security problem

      the data is sent to a collector there is no address in that data. There numbers that identify the meter itself the MPAN.

      Of course the MPAN, consumption and address can be linked. But not by someone sniffing the wire. They have to get access to your suppliers database.

      I write scripts to parse these flow files.

      DTC Flow descriptions

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        @Lee and others

        Well, at some point you have to draw a line...while stopping one more thing may be kind of futile in the overall picture, not trying is sending a message you don't care. This one wouldn't matter to me personally, as I have my own solar array, batteries and whatnot. Freedom from a power bill is pretty nice. I think in many cases people are realizing that a thief isn't the only threat - the state level actor who might be a problem is your own state - there is no instance of a state power that hasn't been abused.

        These days they are amateurs at hiding that compared to my own youth and some people are working that out. Here, where pot isn't legal yet, smart meters would be used to discover grow operations for just one thing.

        Now, I live in the extreme boonies - where if you have an emergency, the police are maybe 45 minutes away (or more, as has happened here) - thank heavens the neighborhood is pretty good people and we look out for one another insofar as we can - I for example, can't see any of my neighbor's houses from the rooftop here (which is on a hilltop!). We DO worry somewhat about security, as sometimes a stranger is here to steal something. Particularly in hunting season where they might have some excuse to be here at all. Normally we farmers are grateful for those who keep the game under control, as they eat crops.

        You could literally use a chainsaw on someone's front door and burgle for most of an hour before the neighbors would notice or the cops come if they did. Rather than encase ourselves in steel bars, well, it turns out that in farm country there are a lot of people who "Still cling to their Bibles - and their guns" as both have been known to come in handy in the presence of varmints - the latter doesn't count how many legs they have, either.

        Ring my doorbell, or most others around here, and you'll be looked at either by a window or a camera.

        And likely invited in and given food and other comfort. It's a nice place with nice people.

        Break in by kicking or other method, well, Mr Smith and Wesson is here to greet you with a likely permanent perforation or few. Unofficially, the cops are fine with this...they know it wouldn't happen unless the situation was dire.

        For some reason, there's next to zero crime here. It's kinda too dangerous - grandma knows how to shoot and is in practice. While there are some criminals living in the area, they go to the nearest town or city where they are anonymous and their victim likely unprepared to resist their attentions. If you harm someone in a tiny town - you may as well move away, if you live through the experience. Modern tech that will reveal whodunit is widely adopted even out here.

        At least here, John Lott's thesis works out.

        Cities promote disease. Anonymity and a constant flow of transients in a situation where no one can know all the people around are a recipe for con artists, thieves, and other predators on the dark side to ply their trades. Those sorts are by definition looking for the easy no-brainer way to get their desires.

        They only have to move a couple of blocks over to regain complete anonymity and continue their bad deeds if caught. That just doesn't work in a county where pretty much everyone knows everyone else.

        This points to a flaw in the "one size fits all" thinking that is always associated with strong central statist governments. I'm here to tell you, one size does NOT fit all. I completely understand that if you're going to live somewhere dense you have to be much more careful swinging your arms as someone's nose is never far away, and loss of some freedoms is required in such places to make things work. But...many people move away from that situation for that very reason. Responsible people can have more freedom without creating harm than those who have no discipline.

      2. bigphil9009

        Re: Home security problem

        Not that I'm complaining, but should we be able to see all that documentation?

    8. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Home security problem

      I guess you don't get parcels delivered by Amazon then, or any other courier. It's far easier for them to work out your patterns and sell them on..

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Home security problem

        "I guess you don't get parcels delivered by Amazon then, or any other courier."

        It'd take a hell of a lot of lot of such deliveries by relatively few couriers to work that out.

  2. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Ten years ago, when the Cabinet Office was pondering whether to commit the country to the £11bn project"

    It feels like a lot longer than 10 years since EL Reg started, rightly, pointing out that this is a stupid idea.

    Please remind me, which fool conceived it, thought it was a good one and managed to get it in front of the Cabinet Office?

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Are they still using the 2G network for this nonsense or did they finally wake up and remember that the year 2000 is actually in the past now?

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        3G is not available everywhere. I have fibre. Half a mile from my house there's some mobile not spots where you're lucky to get Edge connectivity.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Please remind me, which fool conceived it, thought it was a good one and managed to get it in front of the Cabinet Office?

      Grinning idiot Ed Milliband was Sec of State for Energy & Climate Change when this was enthusiastically pushed through parliament, and I think the geneisis of the UK policy was in 2006-7 under the then Sec of State for the environment one David Milliband.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A complete waste of money, time and energy on insecure garbage. Smart meters do not save energy, I do by going around turn lights off.

    Just how many wind farms could we build for £13bn and rising ?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      smart meter != reduction in energy consumption

      A complete waste of money, time and energy on insecure garbage. Smart meters do not save energy, I do by going around turn lights off.

      Indeed. I have long been puzzled by the idea that smart meters save you energy. They don't - they just tell you how much energy your're using.

      If you want a smart meter, then presumably you have an inclination to being sensible with your energy use in the first place, e.g. only heat your house as warm as it needs to be, don't leave lights on unnecessarily, etc.

      Therefore, by installing a new piece of kit which actually uses electricity, a smart meter could represent an *increase* in energy consumption.

      1. Gio Ciampa

        Re: smart meter != reduction in energy consumption

        Exactly this ... unless they really do come installed with magic energy-saving pixies that do it all for you...?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: smart meter != reduction in energy consumption

        If I want to check on the efficiency of a new piece of electric kit - then the wireless house electricity consumption indicator is too crude. I can switch devices off and on with no immediate feedback.

        I use a portable monitor that can be inserted between a device and the wall socket. Gives me a far better idea of what it consumes and how I should ration it if necessary. Whether the monitor is totally accurate for things like switched mode power supplies is a moot point.

        The non-mechanical supply meter that was installed last year could also have pathological error conditions? A Dutch system was found to give incorrect high readings for devices with dimmer controls.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: smart meter != reduction in energy consumption

          A Dutch system was found to give incorrect high readings for devices with dimmer controls.

          The EWB (Basel utilities) company had to change a load of electricity meters a few years ago because all meters fitted in a certain time period were faulty.

        2. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: smart meter != reduction in energy consumption

          "Gives me a far better idea of what it consumes and how I should ration it if necessary."

          Funnily enough, my turning off of an electric appliance is governed by me no longer needing it at the moment. Whereas if I do, it will be on, even if it blacks out the other half of the city. No smart meter or dumb meter for that matter is of any help with doing that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Smart meters do not save energy

      Indeed. Smart meters were never intended to save money for consumers - the idea that people who had no interest in reducing their electrickery bill prior to having a smart meter will suddenly change their attitude after having one is entirely fallacious. People who do care already turn stuff off when not needed or in use.

      Smart meters have many benefits for the suppliers though: it will enable them to greatly reduce their staff costs, remotely disconnect your supply, and sell your usage data.

      1. NiceCuppaTea

        Re: Smart meters do not save energy

        Not only do they not reduce your consumption but they actually increase it as they require electricity to work!

        The only thing that can reduce your energy consumption is you! The only thing smart meters do is make it more visible to the consumer how much energy they are using (that and enable the energy companies to bill more accurately and fire everyone they employed to go out and read meters)

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Smart meters do not save energy

          The only thing smart meters do is make it more visible to the consumer how much energy they are using

          There is a depressing number of people in the UK who have to chose between food and heating in the winter; some people have even died of cold because of this. I can see how having a readout quickly available to them may make things worse.

      2. FlossyThePig

        Re: Smart meters do not save energy

        ...remotely disconnect your supply...

        What a load of FUD.

        The regulations, in the UK, regarding disconnection that apply to dumb meters applies to "smart" meters as well. There are a number of hoops to jump through before disconnection. Finally, somebody has to physically disconnect at the property to ensure, for example, there is no life saving medical equipment is installed.

        1. SundogUK

          Re: Smart meters do not save energy

          Regulations can be changed.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: Smart meters do not save energy

            Not true, usage of smart meters can save a fortune in energy charges, if you are a very large consumer such as a hospital, factory or university campus.

            You need to know where power is being wasted in order to cut consumption and comprehensive readings at least every 30 mins are invaluable in this context.

            However for domestic use they are in 99% of cases a complete waste of time, money and resources.

            Also SMETS1 is a fuck-up, it should never have been rolled out except as a technology test for smart meters.

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: Smart meters do not save energy

              DJO but these are for domestic plants and are utter shit. I'd love one if, in the middle of the night without me going looking for it, it could tell me that the price has dropped to 2p a unit where I would know its OK to turn on electric heating/hot water etc and actually save me some money over (say) gas for heating the same.

              I have a feeling these things were rushed out before someone could implement that.

              1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                Unhappy

                "love one if, in the middle of the night..it could tell me that the price has dropped to 2p/unit"

                I think it's called "Economy 7"

                I'm not sure it's still available to newe customers in the UK.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Smart meters do not save energy

              "if you are a very large consumer such as a hospital, factory or university campus you need to know where power is being wasted in order to cut consumption, and comprehensive readings at least every 30 mins are invaluable in this context."

              Maybe so. But why do these end customer readings need to be managed centrally at grid level (it's obvious why Gridco and friends would want them to be managed centrally, less obvious why end customers would want them managed centrally).

              Back in the 1990s, a UK company with an HQ in Milton Keynes, a company whose name I forget, used to provide a remote meter reading service (every 15 minutes, iirc, but may well have been Half Hourly) to those larger consumers of electricity (larger seems to have equated to 100kVA meters and upwards?). [did it perhaps turn into IMserv?]

              Last time I was involved in this was back in the 1990s, around the time the UK electricity supply industry was piratised. It may well have changed since then.

              1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                Thumb Up

                ""around the time the UK electricity supply industry was piratised.

                Hmm.

                Might be a typo.

                Might not.

            3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: Smart meters do not save energy

              @DJO "Also SMETS1 is a fuck-up"

              Agreed, although a mate of mine is co-ordinating Smart Meter rollout for Eon, and said SMETS1 can be upgraded to give the tarif handover capability between providers, and iirc that can be done over the air, so there could be a save there.

          2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            "Regulations can be changed."

            Exactly.

            Like this nonsense inserted by a "Cash for clauses" peer of the realm.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: regulations, meaning of disconnection

          The UK has regulations re cold calling and similar stuff. Would you regard them as effective? I don't know anyone who would. So why should energy "regulation" work any better than cold calling regulation?

          Once a worthwhile proportion of smaller electricity users can usefully have their supplies temporarily switched off (is that not "disconnection" in your world?) at times of maximum demand, then it will happen. Any resulting penalties will be a routine cost of business for the energy suppliers involved, just as the penaties for illegal cold callers are a routine cost of business.

          "somebody has to physically disconnect at the property to ensure, for example, there is no life saving medical equipment is installed."

          If I was looking after someone whose electricity supply was life critical, I don't think I'd want to rely on a regulatory authority to guarantee continuity of supply. Some batteries and a generator might well seem more appropriate than a Service Level Agreement or other document worth its weight in coal.

          Wake up and smell the coffee (while it's still warm).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Smart meters do not save energy

          @FlossyThePig

          I say good sir can I introduce you to "the future"

          Power plants going offline. No new plants to replace them. Nuclear fuel a fiasco. Lots more house building.

          Demand goes up, supply comes down.

          What could possibly happen? Rolling power cuts? That won't do, especially not for people that matter. Lets use the smart meters to target certain areas. Current laws mean nothing when there isn't enough power because you aren't cutting someone off you are temporarily preserving the supply to those that matter.

          If you think that won't happen then you don't really understand how government works. I'll give you an example, 30 hours free childcare. Who benefits from this? It certainly isn't the people on low pay because you have to supplement it due to the cost to providers so they can't afford it anyway, those that can afford it get a nice bonus from the government they don't even need. A bit off topic but that's how it all works and I don't expect the choices when cutting people off to be any different.

        4. Gerry 3
          FAIL

          Re: Smart meters do not save energy

          > What a load of FUD.

          It's FACT, not FUD. You're referring to permanent disconnection because of non-payment.

          In contrast, smart meters can disconnect individual users for short periods (load shedding) when failure to build sufficient generating capacity means that there won't be enough electricity to go round. It's what they'll do when eye-watering Time of Day pricing (35p/kWh or more) hasn't worked.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Smart meters do not save energy

            In contrast, smart meters can disconnect individual users for short periods (load shedding) when failure to build sufficient generating capacity means that there won't be enough electricity to go round

            Ah. So the UK is predicted to have a cold winter, with prolonged periods of little or no wind. That's on top of summer having calm periods as well. So no wind, no electricity from wind turbines, which may then require load shedding for a few days or weeks.

            So it's turtles all the way down, stopping with Ed Milliband's Climate Change Act. Written for him by Bryony Worthington, who's now part of Tempus Energy, who've just successfully challenged the UK's capacity auction system, meaning even less power.

            So the UK jumped into 'renewables'. They're intermittent and unreliable (not to mention expensive). To deal with the intermittent nature, we need some form of demand management. So we're 'investing' in 'smart' meters that for the consumer, don't do any more than current meters.

            But nobody cares about the consumer, who just wants cheap, reliable power. If 'smart' meters came with a rates feed allowing instant switching to the cheapest electricity biller (I mean provider), then more households might have installed them. Instead, we've installed meters that stop working if a customer switches provider.

            For UK energy, the lunatics truly are in charge of the asylum.

          2. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Smart meters do not save energy @Gerry 3

            Don't need a smart meter for load shedding, South Africa has been doing it for decades with hot water heaters. They are fitted with a device that switches the water heaters off via a ripple put through the electricity supply and a similar ripple turns them on again; was used mostly for peak demand time like cooking dinner. Now they just blackout whole areas*.

            *Since the ANC's energy ministers famous "Why do we need these extra giga-watts when we have so much more mega-watts now?" comment! It has become standard practice for rolling blackouts during the winter months as a load balancing method. Eskom (state supplier) publishes the time table of when you need to light the candles.

            Old joke - What did Zimbabwe use for lighting and cooking before candles and paraffin burners? Answer - electricity. SA is headed the same way. So damned sad.

          3. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Re: Smart meters do not save energy

            In contrast, smart meters can disconnect individual users for short periods (load shedding)

            I have an old dumb meter. I don't know how many of my neighbours have smart vs dumb meters. But we all get disconnected depressingly frequently. It's called power cuts.

            A smart meter wouldn't change my usage much. But I can envisage a future world in which my dishwasher can be set to run when the supply tells it is cheapest overnight. Those who have electric cars will have a similar situation on a much bigger scale.

        5. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Smart meters do not save energy

          The regulations, in the UK, regarding disconnection that apply to dumb meters applies to "smart" meters as well. There are a number of hoops to jump through before disconnection. Finally, somebody has to physically disconnect at the property to ensure, for example, there is no life saving medical equipment is installed.

          The difference here is that disconnection CAN be done remotely. How touching that you trust the big energy suppliers to get their billing correct, that they won't accidentally decide that you have an old debt of several gazzillion quid and disconnect you for bad credit, that they won't accidentally hit the wrong key and disconnect you instead of someone else, etc, etc. The regs means SFA when it comes to corporate incompetence.

          And the remote disconnect facility has been in the specs from the outset - EVERY "smart" meter has the facility, because it's needed for the second stage of the demand management they are being put in to provide. The first stage is price rationing, the second stage is rolling power cuts like we had in the 70's - but done on a more granular level.

          BTW - the "smart" gas meters also have the remote disconnect facility - but they cannot be remotely reconnected. For safety reasons, the user has to manually turn the gas back on.

          In theory someone with medical equipment etc can be put on the vulnerable person register. While this may affect decisions by the DNO about maintenance and exclude the property from rolling power cuts, I can't see it dealing with corporate billing cockups.

          1. Vometia Munro

            Re: Smart meters do not save energy

            "In theory someone with medical equipment etc can be put on the vulnerable person register. While this may affect decisions by the DNO about maintenance and exclude the property from rolling power cuts, I can't see it dealing with corporate billing cockups."

            Indeed. When I pointed out the matter of vulnerability to an energy supplier (something I'm generally loath to do but I'd experienced a lot of ongoing problems) they blithely replied that they had no idea: though I'm not sure which protocols would inform them, *I* had certainly informed them. Repeatedly. Anyway okay, they claim to be entirely ignorant, well that makes everything magically alright then since we all know ignorance is a defence as enshrined in English law, or something. By the time they replied I was an ex-customer anyway but I suspect it would've never been worth pursuing.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: Smart meters do not save energy

              spending 13bn on windfarms is a silly idea. There is plenty of generation but not necessarily dependable generation at peak demand. 13bn would be better spent on hydro storage schemes that can be reverse pumped at shallow cheap demand and forward run at peak demand. Paired with windfarms that could generate at 3AM would be great (or nuclear that cant really be shut down).

      3. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        Re: Smart meters do not save energy

        The primary benefit to the supplier is the ability to introduce Uber-style surge pricing.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Smart meters do not save energy

          Smart meters only enable surge pricing if the changes in price can be communicated in real-time to the meter. If the increase doesn't get through, the supplier loses out. If the relaxation back to the normal value doesn't get through, the customer is defrauded.

          Since this is an obvious possibility to anyone technically minded, I would hope that a court would take the view that the company simply could not prove that ANY of their leccy had been supplied at anything other than the lowest price offered during the billing period in question and therefore ALL bills to all customers should be recalculated accordingly.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: Smart meters do not save energy

            Smart meters only enable surge pricing if the changes in price can be communicated in real-time to the meter.

            It can, it's a basic part of the communications network - at least when it's fully rolled out.

            I would hope that a court would take the view that the company simply could not prove that ANY of their leccy had been supplied at anything other than the lowest price offered during the billing period in question

            And you'd be disappointed. The meters record usage for every half out period of every day - and the price charged at the time. So yes, they can show that you used several units at £1/unit because you dared to want to eat dinner at dinner time when you get home from work.

            This is one of the objections, that very detailed usage information is send back to a humungous database which we have to trust will remain as secure as we are being told it will. Not that any large government (or Crapita, or ...) system has ever had a security issue - oh no, government (and it's contractors) IT is perfect :D

            It would have been sufficient for billing purposes to tally up usage with a register for each rate used - but they decided not to do that.

    3. tony2heads

      Alternative idea

      They should have divided up the £13bn for everyone who had a meter.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Energy Savings

      How much EXTRA energy is required to run the previously unnecessary wireless networks and automatic data collection, etc?

  4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Mushroom

    What an absolute fucking waste of time and money.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      One wonders about the size of the emissions footprint for all the people driving around installing them.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      DECC Eds

      What an absolute fucking waste of time and money.

      That's one way to describe Eds Milliband and Davey. So I've been reading the report. And found this nice, WTF? moment..

      58 Part Three Rolling out smart meters

      Benefits 3.5

      The Department is not systematically monitoring the energy savings consumers achieve with smart meters.

      So.. We're spending £20bn or so to install a system where electricity usage can be monitored remotely. We've been sold on this 'investment' on the prospect that it'll save us money. Yet the Department hasn't been looking at the billing data to see if savings are real.

      How do these people still have jobs?

      I guess you could argue that the early adopters are the most keen and may have been motivated to make the largest savings. Or if the current installed base shows customers aren't saving any money/reducing consumption, then it's best not to look at the data...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: DECC Eds

        "Or if the current installed base shows customers aren't saving any money/reducing consumption, then it's best not to look at the data..."

        You can't lie if you don't know the truth.

  5. LenG

    The only measurable saving to consumers is that the best tariffs will only be available to smart meter users.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      @LarsG >>>The only measurable saving to consumers is that the best tariffs will only be available to smart meter users.<<<

      -> By the imposition of punitive rates to the the non smart households.

      Once a high enough % have the new meters utility companies will start varying the tariff rate through the day and users without the full (hourly readings + rate applied) data set will be clueless as how to compare other supplier tariffs.

  6. ISYS

    How are these supposed to save energy

    I can see from my smart meter that I am using some electricity so what do I do?

    Turn off some lights - that might save a few pence.

    Turn off the TV - nope I am watching it.

    Turn off the fridge and freezer - not a good idea

    Turn off the oven - I only turn it on when I am cooking

    Turn off the heating - I only turn it on when I am cold and if I forget to turn it off the thermostat does it for me.

    I am really struggling to see what else I could do as everything else in the house that uses energy only does so when I need it to.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: How are these supposed to save energy

      The theory is that by seeing how much energy you're using, you'll realize how much energy each appliance uses and will either minimize its use or buy a more energy efficient model.

      In practice, people will go "Meh" after five minutes and never look at their smart meter again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How are these supposed to save energy

        "[...] you'll realize how much energy each appliance uses [...]"

        In my experience a single point metering of the house supply - with a wireless remote monitor - is far too crude to judge the consumption of most individual devices. I found that the "current" values would often not change when a device was switched on/off.

        I use a portable monitor that goes between a device and its socket when I'm interested in the specific consumption.

      2. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: How are these supposed to save energy

        ..buy a more energy efficient model.

        Where this falls down is the payback period for replacing a device vs. the energy saved may exceed the new device's lifespan AND the scrapping/wastage of a functioning device whose resource/manufacturing costs are already incurred anyway.

        In this latter case if it's sold to someone else then they will encounter similar efficiency issues UNLESS they have scrapped an even less-efficient device and the net energy saving will not be helped...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How are these supposed to save energy

          I avoid using the electric oven unless a meal really needs it. At the same time things can share the oven - with some of them destined for the freezer and microwave reheating when needed.

          The electric kettle has been replaced by using the microwave to heat a cup of water for a hot drink.

          All the house lights that were tungsten or CFL are now LED. Even those are the "filament" type which are more efficient radiators of their light as they have no bulky obstructions in their structure.

          Only the kitchen still has fluorescent tubes that are rarely switched on for jobs that demand maximum illumination. Most of the time the illumination comes from a LED fitting. When the tubes fail again then LEDs will replace them. However - the last tubes lasted for 30 years so possibly not economic to replace them just for the sake of it.

          The lounge has sufficient light for most purposes from a 4w LED table lamp. The ceiling spots are used when maximum illumination is needed. These were once 6 x 50w halogens - now they are LED equivalents using a tenth of the power and are still dimmable. You literally feel the difference when they are switched on - the body being surprised that so much light is apparently cold.

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: How are these supposed to save energy

            @a/c

            Congratulations, you've achieved ongoing minimum running cost by the simple expedient of thinking through the issue and applying one-off spending as required.

            I'm guessing the total outlay for these changes was well under the £374 cost for an new meter.

            Once all of the one-off cost savings have been made the only thing left to cut is home heating & regular bathing.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How are these supposed to save energy

              "Once all of the one-off cost savings have been made the only thing left to cut is home heating & regular bathing."

              That was done as well. Luckily my genes gift me with a fair bit of brown adipose tissue (brown fat). This burns off calories as body heat without invoking shivering. Even better - if the body is subjected to lower temperatures (IIRC <17C?) then it produces more brown fat instead of the excess white fat that gives us potential health problems. The brown adipose tissue is not noticeable as "fat" - my body weight has always been in the "good" range for my ectomorph shape.

              Instead of a shower or bath I do a daily "sponge bath". Some of the potentially smelly areas of the body are a result of too much washing - which upsets the bacterial balance***.

              ***wiping the top of a bottle of alcohol with a towel can wipe out a whole advanced civilisation on the towel.

          2. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: How are these supposed to save energy

            "The electric kettle has been replaced by using the microwave to heat a cup of water for a hot drink."

            Kettles are incredibly efficient at boiling water, as long as you don't overfill them. A quick Google suggests that microwaves are only 65%-odd efficient. Thus you should be better off using a kettle.

            1. Chemist

              Re: How are these supposed to save energy

              "Kettles are incredibly efficient at boiling water"

              And not as likely to scald you as water heated in a microwave which can 'bump'*

              * lab term for a superheated liquid that suddenly boils violently.

              1. TRT Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: How are these supposed to save energy

                Or have a cold beer instead. OK, you might have used more electricity in the fridge, but after 5 or 6 who cares?

                1. The Pi Man

                  Re: How are these supposed to save energy

                  This is Britain. You should be drinking warm beer, not that fancy lager.

              2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

                Re: How are these supposed to save energy

                @Chemist "superheated liquid"

                Sheeee-it,... I've done that sketch. Microwaved some coffee, put a spoonful of brown sugar in it, ,,, and WHOOSH, it went off like angry Coca Cola. Totally emptied the mug, ended up all over the counter, and I copped a bit of spatter. I'm now much more careful with the timing.

                1. Chemist

                  Re: How are these supposed to save energy

                  "Microwaved some coffee, put a spoonful of brown sugar in it, ,,, and WHOOSH"

                  It's essentially an example of kinetic v thermodynamic effect. Thermodynamically the water has enough ( more than ) energy to boil but no initiating pathway. In the lab we used little fragments of glass or wooden sticks ( added before reaching boiling I might add) to promote smooth boiling. Your sugar just trigger very rapid boiling. Almost like a mild explosion in fact. Cryogenic liquid gases added to room-temp water can sometimes behave in a similar manner - the initial turbulence promoting more and more rapid mixing until the evolution of gas become very violent.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How are these supposed to save energy

              " Thus you should be better off using a kettle."

              I tried the modern kettles with a flat element - they didn't last very long. In our hard water area limescale build up soon reduces the efficiency of electric elements in kettles.

              The superheated "volcano" effect isn't a problem unless you microwave it for too long. I have heard that making tea in a microwave can spoil the taste due to the hots spots in the water. Works ok for individual ground coffee bags.

          3. SundogUK

            Re: How are these supposed to save energy

            What a miserable life you must lead.

        2. David 18

          Re: How are these supposed to save energy

          @Steve K

          But we all know that reality and science and engineering principles mean nothing in the debates about energy use. All that matter is that you are seen to be doing the right thing, however wrong or misguided. Hence the Toyota Pious

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: How are these supposed to save energy

            Hence the Toyota Pious

            I have a Toyota C-HR (uses the same Hybrid mechanism as the Prius). It's cut my petrol usage down to less than 1/3 of what it used to be..

            (Yes, I'm aware that there's an argument that says the resources used to make a car are sufficiently enormous so as to make it a bad idea.. But since the expected replacement time for a car in my possession is 10-15 years[1] I reckon that I'll get my moneys-worth)

            [1] Apart from the Morris Minor (made in 1966) - we've had it almost 25 years. If they did a hybrid system upgrade for it, we'd get that done too)

            1. Gerry 3
              Go

              Electric Morris Minors

              >Apart from the Morris Minor (made in 1966) - we've had it almost 25 years. If they did a hybrid system upgrade for it, we'd get that done too.

              You can do better than that - your Morris Minor can go fully electric !

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Electric Morris Minors

                Have to admit, I've had my Gen 2 Pious for 9 years now, replacing a Rover 100 series... I've always had better mpg from the Pious than the Rover for a car much bigger and heavier. For a car that was right at the forefront of hybrid technology, I reckon it's doing pretty darned well even against today's cars. Lifetime mpg is 50, and on one of my infrequent motorway trips, I'm getting 79/80, all verified by the spreadsheet/database where I enter all my fuel receipts (yeah, I'm a bit anal like that; I get the receipt from the petrol station and write the trip computer reading on it before resetting it).

              2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                Coat

                "You can do better than that - your Morris Minor can go fully electric !"

                An electric Moggy.*

                *Not to be confused with an electrified Mogg, which would be a back bench Conservative MP wired to the mains.

      3. D@v3

        Re: How are these supposed to save energy

        I like the idea that you are supposed to save money on your electricity bill, by spending lots of money on more energy efficient items.

      4. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: How are these supposed to save energy

        "The theory is that by seeing how much energy you're using, you'll realize how much energy each appliance uses and will either minimize its use or buy a more energy efficient model."

        Except we do this already, in the form of a monthly bill :)

        If your power use is high, you can poke around and work out why. If you don't care, then a smart meter won't change that.

        Buying every household a kill-a-watt or equivalent would do more. Since then you can actually see the load a device is drawing, and multiply that up to kWh per day/month/year.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: How are these supposed to save energy

          "The theory is that by seeing how much energy you're using, you'll realize how much energy each appliance uses and will either minimize its use or buy a more energy efficient model."

          That would be great. If only the radio signal from the meter cupboard were strong enough to be able to use the monitor somewhere other than the loo (which doesn't have a wall socket to power it from).

    2. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: How are these supposed to save energy

      Also you are unlikely to run a washing machine/tumble dryer overnight (to take advantage of cheaper tariffs) since fire safety advice is generally not to do so.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: How are these supposed to save energy

        "Also you are unlikely to run a washing machine/tumble dryer overnight (to take advantage of cheaper tariffs) since fire safety advice is generally not to do so."

        And in most average sized houses, you probably don't want the washing machine starting up at 2am, least of all the spin cycle, especially those times when the load balance isn't quite right. Or for the clothes to be left for hours wet in the machine. Combined washer/dryers are generally less efficient and you lose both if one bit breaks,

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: How are these supposed to save energy

        Also you are unlikely to run a washing machine/tumble dryer overnight ... since fire safety advice ...

        Not just fire safety, but safety from having your brains bashed out by the neighbours kept awake by the vibrations. The icon suggests my feelings if I were unlucky enough to live in a flat with a neighbours (above or at the side) running such a machine in the early hours.

    3. David 18

      Re: How are these supposed to save energy

      The only conceivable way I can see that they could ave money is indirectly. Meter readers get laid off, usage stats get sold = more money for energy companies that can be passed on as saving to the customer.

      Yeah right! Big bonuses for the top execs more like.

    4. Gerry 3
      Black Helicopters

      Re: How are these supposed to save energy?

      So you're a refusenik, huh? You don't want to have the Sunday roast at 2am and do the washing and tumble drying at 3am?

      You need to be re-educated. No more flights or high speed rail travel for you !

  7. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Meters are passive

    Householder won't save a penny unless they actively change behaviour.

    To change behaviour requires a lot more interaction with the device than merely reading the numbers once a month. The naff adverts are very misleading.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Meters are passive

      i thought smart meters made it easier for electric companies to disconnect you? That drops ypu electric usage fairly promptly

  8. macjules Silver badge

    “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy"

    AKA: "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy"

      AKA: "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue"

      That, sir, is an insult to the memory of the Home Service or wherever Sir Humphrey of Lyttelton and his lovlely handmaiden Samantha are now workng hard.

    2. Tweetiepooh

      Re: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy"

      I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue is far more entertaining and creative than anything some Whitehall department could dream up. And greater longevity too.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    I'm loathed to say this but this is an EU driven order and those espousing Brexit might have a point when using this as an example of EU stupidity, waste and political dogma.

    I DO NOT WANT A FUCKING SMART METER !

    Apologies for shouting but this really grinds my gears.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      As an EU directive, I wonder how it is going in the other 27 countries? I have seen some very dodgy wiring over the years (looking at you Greece and also your attachment to cash with no paper trail).

      I imagine it will be just as difficult to get folks to accept these in many other places.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "As an EU directive, I wonder how it is going in the other 27 countries?"

        France is having fun with their Linky devices. A friend of mine is a translator and asked all sorts of questions about transducers, so I found out just how well their rollout isn't going. I remember El Reg doing a story about it at some point.

        Edit: for example, Linky smart meters in France do not apparently allow you to actually monitor real-time electricity usage.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      I haven't looked at this case, but Britain has a long and proud tradition of "gold plating" European directives. So I suspect, if I bothered to follow the link in the article, I'd find we were doing way more than was required. It's a habit which has fed our distrust of the EU and yet it originates in Whitehall.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "It's a habit which has fed our distrust of the EU and yet it originates in Whitehall."

        An MP asked a farmer in her constituency why he voted for Brexit. He said because of the way the EU body DEFRA had been regularly late with his subsidy payments.

        He was rather nonplussed to be told that DEFRA was a UK department - and it had been fined by the EU for making late payments to farmers. After Brexit DEFRA will still have responsibility for subsidy payments - if there are any under the new arrangements.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: I do not want a fucking smart meter!

      Neither do I but I'm not convinced the EU ordered it to be implemented in such a fucking moronic way, The simple fact the meters appear to be non-transferable between suppliers suggests it was a deliberate UK fuckup,

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I do not want a fucking smart meter!

        "The simple fact the meters appear to be non-transferable between suppliers suggests it was a deliberate UK fuckup,"

        To the extent they ordered the roll-out to begin before a standard was ratified for interoperability, yes, it was deliberate.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I do not want a fucking smart meter!

        Correct. Living in the Netherlands, they are not required and if you want one they are installed just once. When you change suppliers you do not have to re-install the meter. And you can choose how often they report back, including turning it off. And also they do not allow power to be turned off.

    4. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      REad the damn directive :)

      " but this is an EU driven order and those espousing Brexit might have a point when using this as an example of EU stupidity, waste and political dogma."

      No, this is (yet another) example of the UK using an EU directive to do what it wants anyway, and when they fuck up the implementation they can blame it on the EU. It's not unique to the UK, it's quite common for countries to put unpopular legislation as optional parts in an EU agreement, then opting to use it and saying "not us guv".

      Here's a couple of the relevant parts. Yes, I do read a lot of EU legal documents. Yes, it is exactly as dull as it sounds :)

      "(55) It should be possible to base the introduction of intelligent metering systems on an economic assessment. Should that assessment conclude that the introduction of such metering systems is economically reasonable and cost-effective only for consumers with a certain amount of electricity consumption, Member States should be able to take this into account when implementing intelligent metering systems."

      "2. Member States shall ensure the implementation of intelligent metering systems that shall assist the active participation of consumers in the electricity supply market. The implementation of those metering systems may be subject to an economic assessment of all the long-term costs and benefits to the market and the individual consumer or which form of intelligent metering is economically reasonable and cost-effective and which timeframe is feasible for their distribution."

      Notice some key points. Economically reasonable and cost effective for consumers. Only useful for certain classes of consumers. Economic assessment of benefit to market. Economic assessment of benefit to consumers.

      Now, it's pretty fucking clear to me (and those who actually know about this) that these studies were clearly bullshit. Thus an honest study would have said don't rollout to domestic users unless they request it. So if the UK followed the EU directive honestly (LOL) then no rollout. But it turns out the surveillance state would very much like smartmeters, thanks.

      So, like almost everything fucked up in the UK, it's all Whitehall, all the time. They decide how to interpret EU directives, they fuck it up, and it's they who have managed to dodge accountability.

      There are plenty of issues with the EU. But almost all the ones that the brexiters are shouting about are, in fact, British issues. Immigration is under UK control. How directives are implemented and enforced are under UK control.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Gimp

        "all the ones that the brexiters are shouting about are, in fact, British issues."

        Reminding us once again "Europe" (or the EU) is not the enemy.

        Whitehall OTOH.....

    5. Social Ambulator

      I'm loath to say this but I'm sure you are loathed for your bad language.

  10. andy gibson

    pros of the smart meter

    Can't speak for anyone else but I've found a couple of occasions they've been useful.

    One time I noticed the electric usage was quite high, it turned out to be an outside light left on running a 100w bulb that the previous owner put in.

    And more than once I've left the oven on after cooking.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: pros of the smart meter

      Does the previous owner sneak back and replace the 100w bulb occasionally?

      Leaving the oven on is just moving some of the load from your heating system, we've all done it. but do you not spot the warmer kitchen before looking at the smartmeter?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: pros of the smart meter

      Perhaps you should get out more!

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: pros of the smart meter

      And more than once I've left the oven on after cooking

      Repeat after me - your incompetence does not constitute my emergency..

      (Harsh - maybe a bit. But forgetting to turn off the oven after cooking has an easy fix - a small poster tacked/bluetacked above saying "Have you turned off the oven?" might help..)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait...

      How did you not realise you left an outside light on?

      Oh, you mean they used a 100w bulb? you waited for a over £300 smart meter instal, read the dial on it when everything else was turned off... instead of looking to see if you had bulbs/tubes/leds in a light? OKAY.

    5. stewgreen

      Re: pros of the smart meter

      A one off check would find surprise lightbulbs etc.

      Oven left on ..well it was heating your kitchen

      A hefty 2MW oven left on for 5 extra hours costs you 10 extra KWh = £1.30

      1. Gerry 3
        Boffin

        Re: pros of the smart meter

        If your oven was 2MW you'd need a substation to power it !

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >And more than once I've left the oven on after cooking.

    I'm reminded of the old David Beckham joke:

    David Beckham goes to the hairdressers wearing a set of headphones and sits in a chair.The stylist walks over and asks him what he wants. Explaining that he'll need to take his headphones off. "No, no,I cant" says David, "I must leave them on." The stylist looks confused,but does his best to wash & cut his hair,around them.David leaves a happy chap.

    A week later the same thing happens again.The same stylist does his best to get David to remove his headphones,but again with no luck.Once more he washes shaves & colours around them,as best as possible.David is pleased with his new look.

    Another week later,David comes back yet again.This time,he falls asleep whilst his hair is being cut.So the stylist carefully removes the headphones,& carries on with his cut.When he has finished he realises that David is DEAD."Oh my god," he shouts."I have killed David Beckham." Suddenly, remembering what David had said about the headphones.He picks them up and puts them on to hear what is being played through them...........

    .............."Breath in,breath out, breath in, breath out........."

    Learn to think for yourself and don't rely on something else to do it for you.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      David Beckham brought his new toy along for a training session.

      "What is it?"

      "A Thermos flask, keeps hot things hot and cold things cold."

      "What have you got in it?"

      "A choc ice and a mug of tea."

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge
        Happy

        >>>David Beckham brought his new toy along for a training session.<<<

        Generally in polite society it's considered bad form to mock low intelligence.

        However in this case the afflicted has £squillions & Posh so I'll upvote!

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      David Beckham’s at a press conference, fielding questions. In response to one request for his opinion, he pauses for a while, then says “Well, they taste nice and make my breath fresher”

      There’s a stunned silence, then the journalist wearily says “No, I asked about TAC-TICS”

      (But then, as my mum - and someone above, I see - likes to point out, considering he has a net worth of £lots, and those mocking him don’t, which of us is the thickie?)

      1. MJI Silver badge

        We may mock but we don't hate.

        Supposedly a very nice person who would probably find these funny

  12. Flak

    Not so smart!

    'Smart meters' are only glorified automated meter readers and don't achieve energy savings, as this would require the smart meter to do more than report on energy usage and actually control devices. A case for the Advertising Standards Authority.

    If it is about awareness, then watching an 'old money' electricity meter spin at top speed when you put the kettle or electric shower on provides some straightforward education.

    Seriously, all the potential positives of smart meters (I can think of only one for the consumer - not having estimated bills anymore) are quickly offset by the very real negatives that are now a reality - spiralling costs (borne by the consumer), device failures and incompatibilities (barrier to switching if you want the smart meter continue being 'smart' in the very limited meaning it currently has), spiralling costs (did I mention that already?)...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not so smart!

      "[...] then watching an 'old money' electricity meter spin at top speed when you put the kettle or electric shower on provides some straightforward education."

      You then need to extrapolate the total energy used for the device's typical running period. Many people do not seem to be able to do basic arithmetic when shopping - so I doubt they can evaluate electric devices' consumption. A high consumption device for short period can be less of a concern than a medium one that's on much of the time.

      In my house the fridge/freezer motors make up a big part of the daily load. I keep the freezer fully packed to minimise cold air losses when the door is opened.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: keep the freezer fully packed

        The bodies of smart meter installers do take up a lot of space.

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Not so smart!

      "Advertising Standards Authority"

      I've wondered about whether there'd be a case to answer on that score too...

      "not having estimated bills anymore"

      I get an email once a month from my (non-big-6) supplier, asking for a reading ... takes 2 minutes to reply with the numbers (might as well use advert breaks usefully after all...), so why install a gadget to do it for me?

      1. Barrie Shepherd

        Re: Not so smart!

        Re ASA

        I have written twice to the ASA complaining about the darn right misleading adverts on radio and TV about smart meters. To date nothing heard, probably because the ASA remit does not cover political advertising and they don't want to upset their Downing Street paymasters.

    3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Not so smart!

      Smart meters are for "demand-side management".

      In order to reduce the cost of standby generation for intermittent renewables, the idea is to modulate down demand in times of low supply.

      Some of this will be by paying industry to shut down. Yes really.

      But the other side of it is to cut domestic usage. In other countries, "load shedding" is used, i.e., power cuts.

      That's not politically tenable here yet, so instead there will just be variable pricing. We will implement our own power cut when the smart-meter-display-thingy tells us we are paying £5/kWh.

      This has been quietly admitted in certain quarters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not so smart!

        "In other countries, "load shedding" is used, i.e., power cuts."

        Interruptible tariffs (cheaper energy for large users who are prepared to reduce demand at relatively short notice) have been used in the UK for quite a while too, for gas as well as electricity, just not on a domestic basis.

        When demand menagement via interruptible tariffs and voltage reductions was insufficient, there wasn't much option except wide area load shedding via wide area disconnections.

        See e.g. the day a few years ago when Longannet and Sizewell both had unplanned outages within a few minutes of each other, and there were wide-area non-selective blackouts affecting hundreds of thousands of electricity customers in various parts of the UK.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7423169.stm

        Now work out what smart meters with a remotely addressable off switch might bring to the table.

        Rather more recently, in 2016 for example, Eggborough was asking for £2500 per MWh because there was a likelihood that demand would come close to exceeding supply. (Normally, £50 per MWh would be more typical ).

        https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/eggborough-power-station-wins-12-month-reprieve-1-7723522

      2. Neil 44

        Re: Not so smart!

        A number of years ago I had a tangential involvement with the communication to smart meters....

        One scenario the were looking at was the control of a second output from the meter that could be turned off remotely. The idea being that a house could have non-critical circuits connected to that output so that they could be turned off for a short period to cover for spikes in demand (the "make a cuppa in the ad-break in Corrie" scenario). The sort of things that might be connected to that output would be the immersion or other forms of heating where you wouldn't miss it for the duration of an ad-break...

        The idea was a discounted tariff if you used the 2nd output as you would be "load shedding" when required.

        Not having a smart meter, I don't know if these second terminals have been implemented!

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Not so smart!

          Not having a smart meter, I don't know if these second terminals have been implemented!

          Yes. It's called 'Economy 7' and was implemented many years ago. For kind of the reverse problem. We built a bunch of nuclear power stations that just love running at peak power 24x7 and aren't all that turn-on-and-offable. So then what to do to sink power during off-peak periods. Solution, a simple radio teleswitch, Radio 4 and a 'clunk' at 2330 when the relay turns on stuff connected to the Economy 7 spur.

          Which is part of the stupidity. There's a need for load shedding and load sinking, so if there's too much power, then turning on a bunch of water or brick storage heaters is a way to use it. Instead, wind farmers get given millions in constraint payments to not dispatch power to the grid.

          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: Not so smart!

            A writer to the IET's magazine recently suggested using the mains frequency to indicate load. Excellent idea. You could even use it to indicate cost as well, thereby allowing every appliance to choose the appropriate cost/benefit threshold.

            Done as a percentage of total cycles per 24 hours, it could even retain the ancient standard of maintaining the day-to-day accuracy of wall clocks, all with a $1 microcontroller counting the 20ms period instead of mobile network capacity.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not so smart!

              "A writer to the IET's magazine recently suggested using the mains frequency to indicate load. Excellent idea."

              Sort of.

              The principle is well known, the instantaneous grid frequency's deviation from 50Hz (in the UK) indicates whether there is a short term imbalance between demand and supply. Under 50Hz => need more supply (or less demand). Over 50Hz => need less supply (or more demand). The bigger the deviation in frequency, the bigger the mismatch in supply and demand. See also: balancing services and Short Term Operating Reserve.

              This is only an indirect indicator of price, but it's an indicator which is already readily available across the UK, to every grid-connected customer and appliance.

              Have a look at e.g.http://www.dynamicdemand.co.uk - last updated 2009 :( Other similar concepts have been described and provided no profitable corporate opportunities so haven't happened in any meaningful way.

              Also have a look at

              http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

              (a cold Friday evening, demand 44GW, two thirds of which is being supplied from fossil fuels - gas (23GW) and coal (8GW!). Nuclear as usual at around 7GW).

              Good to see the IET and in particular the IET magazine continues its record of professional irrelevance. I'll be an ex-member come the end of the year, having been a member of the IEE for many years previously when the IEE was actually a plausible learned society and source of Continuing Professional Development.

          2. Steve K Silver badge

            Re: Not so smart!

            aren't all that turn-on-and-offable.

            Was that a reference to the “creature comforts” animated ads by Aardman?

            Well done Sir/Madam!

  13. Jemma Silver badge

    Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

    Cos the government can't afford to pay the bills as it is.

    Here's a better method.

    Roll out a program that subsidises 1st purchase of LED bulbs

    Roll out a program that *insists* that all new sold equipment uses said bulbs (just one bulb reduced my fridges light use from 15w to 3.3w).

    Roll out a program that states all vehicles will use BA15S/D and relevant standard style led bulbs from now on in their standard sockets (you can get these even for positive earth cars) - 7" sealed beam headlights incand > LED equals a 40% power saving. Save time gaining the safety and energy benefits *and* stop companies like Bavarian Nazi Wankers & the monkey gassing VW (what is it with Germans & gas chambers anyway?) etc al charging drivers £800 for a frigging tail light. And yes, they'll even work in an Austin 7 Ruby - it's hardly rocket science.

    Call in and retrofit all petrol and diesel cars with engine preheaters and have the relevant hardened sockets fitted where needed. 20-28% saving on fuel - saving on wear - saving on electrical power. A sump heater is 4p an hour on mains electric.

    All homes fitted with storage style electric heating refitted with modern equipment (and if possible the cretins who came up with those little gems, identified, located, and shot at dawn as a warning to others)

    All in-duh-viduals claiming that hydrogen, electric etc don't pollute, are clean etc, to be summarily sterilised (lest the evil persist) ditto anti-vaxxers & flat-earthers while the kits on hire. Three dumbasses with one scalpel as it were.

    Investigation in to the benefit of light coloured buildings regarding internal temperatures & summer energy use. Actually I'll save you the trouble - a light colour reduces interior temperature of cars/buildings by anything up to 25%.

    I could go on.. the gains that could be made are astronomical just by using current technologies in current systems. Slapping twatometers on people's supplies and punishing them for living their lives is ludicrous when there are easier benefits to be had... Talk about low hanging fruit - in comparison a chihuahuas testicles would be a stretch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

      "Investigation in to the benefit of light coloured buildings regarding internal temperatures & summer energy use.

      UK homes are rarely air-conditioned. So an external heat contribution in the winter is useful. Keeping a house cool in a UK summer is achieved by sun-facing window shading and through ventilation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

      "just one bulb reduced my fridges light use from 15w to 3.3w"

      The biggest consumption in fridge/freezers is the motors. Strategies like keeping the freezer full - even with added blocks of newspaper - will cut down that consumption.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        To reply to both of you ACs.

        I have an unpainted flat and my neighbours in the same block is painted cream/white. Interior temperature in mine at 3am during the hot spell? 32c with windows open, I had to put desert snakes and large lizard (male Tegu) in a lukewarm bath to cool off because they were showing signs of heat agitation.

        The temperature in the next door flat at the same time? 26c.

        You were saying?

        As to the fridge - it was a cheap replacement - creates less heat than an incandescent and reduces that functions power use by 5x, 6000k frequency light is actually helpful to the eyes (it's the reason why you get better vision with LEDS because it's closer to the daylight wavelength than incandescents (2700k or so). Yes you are entirely correct that the main load is from the pump - however every little efficiency helps.

        In the summer my energy usage with all LEDS - remote sockets & pir lights/remote control lights is less than 60% of a normal flat - it's less than that if it's a hot summer and I can shut down *all* the heat mats for the reptiles.

      2. Anna Logg

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        OK just doing this in my head but assuming 15 mins. fridge door opening per day that bulb swap saves about 25p per year.

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        The biggest consumption in fridge/freezers is the motors. Strategies like keeping the freezer full - even with added blocks of newspaper - will cut down that consumption.

        My freezer, when opened, presents me with a column of closed drawer fronts, so there's very little cold air wafting out. And it beeps at me when I have the door open for longer than (a minute I think).

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        "The biggest consumption in fridge/freezers is the motors. Strategies like keeping the freezer full - even with added blocks of newspaper - will cut down that consumption."

        I fill the empty spaces with the plastic food tubs used for storing the chilled or frozen curries, chillies, stews, soups etc. when they are waiting to be used for the next batch. Freezer AND fridge. Also easily removed and nested when other stuff need to go in there.

      5. stewgreen

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        Ha are you testing us ?

        The bulb is only on when the fridge door is open

        your saving is 12W times very little time

        say 2 mins/day 700/year = 11.5hours

        1200W would cost you 15p/hr so 12W costs you 0.15p/hr

        That changed has saves you 11.5*0.15p/hr =2p per year

    3. I am the liquor

      Re: just one bulb reduced my fridges light use from 15w to 3.3w

      I reduced my fridge's light use to 0W by shutting the door.

      1. quxinot

        Re: just one bulb reduced my fridges light use from 15w to 3.3w

        >I reduced my fridge's light use to 0W by shutting the door.<

        ow do you know the light goes out when you shut the fridge door?

        I mean, that's a difficult to measure metric to ensure that you're saving 3.3w!

        1. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: just one bulb reduced my fridges light use from 15w to 3.3w

          Easy - drill a hole in the door.

          (C) Viz letterbocks 1988 or thereabouts

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

      No - do not subsidise LED light bulbs. As far as I can work out* the 20 or so LED light bulbs in my house are costing me about 6 times the cost of electricity they save in replacement - they simply dont last anywhere as long as they claim.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        Well, that's strange - I'm still using two PIR LED 6w bulbs I bought in 2008 and most have lasted 5 years or more, through a house move too. I don't spend stupid money on them either - cheapies from Amazon. I think it depends on how clean the power supply is and whether lights and sockets are on a separate circuit. A neighbour has LEDs blow all the time but the wiring in that flat is suspect to say the least.

        I can't use halogens anyway because my pets *hate* them - current thinking is they hurt their eyes. I wouldn't go back to incandescent bulbs when I can light the whole place for less energy than a single 60w bulb.

        I guess YMMV applies.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

          I play around with hobby electronics and have made things like 100w LED torches, and combat usable LED lightsabers. You learn something about LED's along the way.

          An LED lamp is a combination of these components:-

          1) The LED chip aka the diode.

          2) The heat sink

          3) The power supply

          The LED chip itself is rated to last ~50,000 hours in service. Left running for 24 hours a day 7 days a week, this should be 5.7 years per unit. Nobody leaves their lights on all day, and the bulbs don't last 6 years, let alone a multiple of this allowing for the fact that most people don't run their bulbs in daylight and so use them for far less than 50% of the time Wonder why?

          An LED gets quite hot. As it gets hot, the resistance drops. As the resistance drops, the LED draws more current and gets hotter. This becomes a death spiral if uncorrected. This is corrected in two ways. Firstly, dump the heat. My 100w torches actually use a full CPU cooler, including the fan. Most commercially available bulbs do not have a decent heat sink, and are mounted by the end user in such a way as to preclude any airflow which drastically reduces the expected in service life.

          Second is the power supply. You need a controller current power supply to prevent the LED from drawing more than the designed current and cooking itself. Some don't have anything at all here.

          I'm not sure if this is a cock up or a conspiracy. Probably a bit of both, fixing of the light bulb market is not a new thing.

          Also; with regards to your earlier post painting the walls or not doesn't do anything and an external factor is in play. Your next door neighbor probably benefits from a drug gang having the flat underneath fitted as a grow room for drugs and the heat is coming in through the floor. The paint on the walls is not the cause.

          1. Paul Shirley

            Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

            An LED lamp is a combination of these components:-

            1) The LED chip aka the diode.

            2) The heat sink

            3) The power supply

            I'm looking forward to finding out how long my filament LED lamps last. They dispense with the heat sink relying on convection to cool the suspended strings of LEDs. Helium filled ones are claimed to have better cooling than old style heatsinks, it's believable even in plain air they do well enough. The 7W bulb above me is just warm to the touch right now after hours on.

            They also need much simpler power circuits to feed those serially wired LED strings, in theory you could even run them off mains voltage with just a bridge rectifier. A simpler, cooler PSU is guaranteed to improve lifespan.

            I bought them to replace CF bulbs because they look good, after rejecting fugly old LEDs for years, if the reliability claims pan out that's a massive bonus and potentially will become a much cheaper LED bulb because of the simplicity.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        they simply dont last anywhere as long as they claim.

        We've bought a bunch of them at IKEA[0][1], various wattages and both dimmable and not, and none have failed in over at least three years; a number are approaching five, and I can probably locate two or three that were fitted when we moved in seven years ago.

        [0] Cheap enough that I can't be arsed to look for even cheaper ones. That might come with probably higher failure rates anyway.

        [1] Hex key not needed, therefore not included.

      3. John 48

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        "the 20 or so LED light bulbs in my house are costing me about 6 times the cost of electricity they save in replacement - they simply dont last anywhere as long as they claim"

        One of the afflictions of being an engineer is knowing what a kWh is, and having the ability to do complicated things like, erm, basic arithmetic…

        So let’s see how plausible this all is:

        First let’s assume your LED lamps are really crap, not only do they not last the 10’s of thousands of hours promised, yours only last as long as a bog standard filament lamp – say 1000 hours. So you have replaced your 60W with a 6W LED. Your 60W lamp used 1kWh of energy in 1000/60 = 16.67 hours. So in its 1000 hour life, that is 1000/16.67 = 60 kWh of electricity. If you pay 23p per kWh, that’s £13.80. Let’s include the cost of the lamp and round it up to £14.

        Your LED will use a tenth of the electricity, so £1.38, and let’s say you paid top money for the poor quality lamp at £5. Brings the total cost to £6.38. So best case, your claim seems to be about 12 x out!

        Note also that was an overly pessimistic calculation. In reality you may be paying a bit more for electricity, the LED was probably cheaper than £5, and it will likely do at least 3000 – 5000 hours even if not the full amount promised on the box. That could bring the savings up quite a bit, at 5k hours: old style lamps use £69 quid of lekky, plus a quids worth in lamps, so £70. LED £6.90 of lekky, and a more realistic £3 of lamp – call it £10, and 4 fewer bulb changes.

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

          Every lightbulb is better than a filament one. Unless you''ve got some dodgy wiring.

          Compare a CFL to the LED. They are about a euro here, for a 1200 lumen jobby @ 20 watts, so roughly a 100W equivalent. So about 5.60 by your math, assuming 1k hours (they are rated for 5k IIRC) compared to 6.40 for the LED.

          The other issue is you're loading all your cost up front.

          Personally I've only using home lighting LEDS in lamps and replacing halogen bulbs, which is a no-brainer. The LEDs cost the same as halogen bulbs and are better in every respect....

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nah.. They won't be getting a grilling..

        "the 20 or so LED light bulbs in my house are costing me about 6 times the cost of electricity they save in replacement - they simply dont last anywhere as long as they claim."

        Really? Maybe it's the brand. I replaced all my bolbs with LED about 5 years ago. None have failed in that time. So far, fingers crossed.

  14. Tezfair

    I suspect that when smart meters were first considered, the old filament bulbs were the normal hence high consumption. My house today is all LEDs, not even halogen or CFLs so the overall consumption will be considerablly less. I don't need a meter to tell me that 100w filament uses more than 9w LED.

    Moreover, the old whirly meters tended to be 10% in our favour, so a more accurate meter will mean our bills would go up.

    1. StewartWhite

      It's not just a matter of the old style meters being a few % in our favour, plenty of the SMETS meters have been found to over-record usage by considerable amounts (but v rarely the opposite, i.e. in the customer's favour). See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/six-reasons-say-no-smart-meter/ for some further interesting reasons as to why they're such a bad idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "[...] SMETS meters have been found to over-record usage by considerable amounts"

        The electricity supplier decided my mechanical meter had reached the end of its planned life and fitted a replacement***. This has an LCD display but is not a Smart Meter. Would it have basically the same transducer mechanism/algorithm as a Smart Meter?

        One of my major uses of electricity has been running the big PC for some processing that can take at least a day every week. This year I stopped doing it. It was a surprise when the "same quarter" consumption comparison from the supplier says I have used significantly more electricity this year.

        ***a few months after the replacement they told me to make an appointment for fitting a Smart Meter as the current meter was "past its planned life". I pointed out they had fitted a new one recently - and they went quiet. None of Eon's attempts to get me to have a Smart Meter have ever indicated that it is voluntary.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Moreover, the old whirly meters tended to be 10% in our favour, so a more accurate meter will mean our bills would go up.

      It is debatable whether "classic" meters as the industry terms them average anything like that inaccuracy across the portfolio, but since they're only used to divide up total system costs, if we all change to a new meter that consistently reads 10% more or 10% less for everybody it would't change your bill.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What could possibly go wrong?

    So what's in store for us with this latest exciting 'innovation'

    - Two way data direction. Allows the supply to be controlled if required.

    - Peak pricing. So when you need electricity or gas the most, the price is at maximum. And reduced ever so slightly at the times when you use it least. Yep, let's put the Christmas turkey in at 2am in the morning. Let's cause fire risks by running the tumble dryer overnight too.

    - More radio frequency energy in the home. As if it's not bad enough as it is.

    - Incompatible technology. Possibly, say good bye to smart functionality when you switch suppliers.

    - More expensive bills. Someones got to pay for this, and it sure isn't going to be those profiting from this.

    - Questionable data security. Who knows what's going to happen with the data, who will have access to it, what security flaws are contained within. No doubt GCHQ have ensured there are back doors in it for them before they gave it their blessing. Because they have our best interests at heart don't they?

    You do have the option to refuse these, despite what the suppliers try to tell you. The only exception is with smart water meters. Those are compulsory and are being rolled out. But water meters do genuinely many people money at the moment, but whether that is something that remains once these things reach critical mass, remains to be seen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      " But water meters do genuinely many people money at the moment, but whether that is something that remains once these things reach critical mass, remains to be seen.

      The water companies may eventually raise their unit prices and/or standing charges to raise their overall revenue to a particular level to sustain operations and profits.

      A metered low consumption user will always have a lower bill than a metered neighbour with significantly higher consumption. The water company has sent me a comparison of the alternative costs for my previous six months on a meter. My metered consumption pricing was about a quarter of the normal fixed annual price.

    2. Gerry 3
      Happy

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      You forgot remote disconnection. Smart people with dumb meters will stay warm and bright when there's not enough juice to go round.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: What could possibly go wrong?

        Smart people only need to be smarter than their meters. A smart meter that's unaccountably unable to make a useful network connection won't respond to attempts to turn it off.

        1. Gerry 3
          Stop

          Re: What could possibly go wrong?

          Or just say NO.

    3. PhilBuk

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      Smart water meters might be compulsory but not always feasible. I have a visual water meter under a cover in the pavement near the end of my drive. The guy from the water company surveyed my house before installation and I pointed out that mains water entered the house at three points. He duly took photographs of the incoming pipes as proof and they later installed a non-smart meter. Most houses on our road have the same arrangement. Smarts only work if you have one incoming main.

      Phil.

  16. MJI Silver badge

    No thanks

    Don't want one

  17. WonkoTheSane
    Headmaster

    Smart meters DO save money!

    But not for you.

    Their sole purpose is to allow energy suppliers to "streamline" their meter reading staff.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Smart meters DO save money!

      Given we cant get a phone signal down here neither will they!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart meters DO save money!

      Their sole purpose is to allow energy suppliers to "streamline" their meter reading staff.

      Not at all. I work for a supplier, we don't want the damn things, and the cost of manual meter readers is very, very low (say £5 per customer per year), and it will probably cost suppliers more than that on average in opex to replace failed meters or end of life batteries in the gas meters. There's a few operational benefits of not having to rely on meter readings that are both infrequent and all too often estimated, but they don't make any business case.

  18. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Ca$h...

    Personally, I'm affluent enough that I don't really need to worry about gas or electricity usage. I'm happy to pay for what I use. Changing a few bulbs, keeping the freezer packed or replacing existing appliances that currently work perfectly well just so I can appear to save a the £ per month that I'd probably blow on a pint down the pub anyway - really isn't going to make much of a difference. I can't see how a smart meter would change that.

    This whole program is flawed. What the NAO really needs to do is to (A) start to re-examine the business case, (B) identify which civil servants had their snouts firmly in the trough when it was approved, and (C) whom in the Civil Service is currently benefiting by keeping this shambles going.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ca$h...

      "Personally, I'm affluent enough that I don't really need to worry about gas or electricity usage."

      So am I - but I have still made sure that my house is as efficient as reasonably possible - without causing me unavoidable discomfort. The only trick I probably missed was in not getting solar panels when the cost v feed-in rebate was good.

      The savings I make help to finance my weekly and seasonal donations to the local food bank. Even there I try to avoid foods that would be difficult to cook by people with "energy poverty".

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Ca$h...

        "The only trick I probably missed was in not getting solar panels when the cost v feed-in rebate was good."

        That's probably a good thing, for your conscience. The rebate was paid by the leccy companies and almost certainly financed by raising prices for all those who didn't have a convenient roof to put some subsidised panels on. A shameful case of robbing the poor to make the quiche-eating classes feel good about themselves.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Ca$h...

          all those who didn't have a convenient roof to put some subsidised panels on.

          Over here there are initiatives to let people participate in installations on other people's roofs, including public buildings.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Re: Ca$h...

            Over here there are initiatives to let people participate in installations on other people's roofs, including public buildings.

            Here too. But the subsidies are far, far less. And yet we who don't have our own roof and so have to resort to investing in public facilities get pointed to and labelled "fat cat investors".

      2. Paul Shirley

        Re: Ca$h...

        It's probable gov had a hard on for smart meters on the assumption they might be able to finally measure electricity supplied to the network instead of the blanket assumption of 50% of generation capacity. The current shower seem intent on wiping out domestic solar and it would have helped before they just nuked support from space.

        Whether that's a good or bad thing I'm not going to get into, or whether the meters will ever be able to do it!

  19. bigtimehustler

    Even if it was the original suggestion of 23 pound, who cares? The vast amount of the population will not notice that over a year. I mean, it might buy you one bit of pick n mix a day. Remember also, thst most people make no savings as they continue to use energy the same as pre smart meter rates, some don't even have batteries in the display. So given the extra cost on their bill for the rollout they are actually worse off.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The point of SMART meters was NOT to help households, it was to do 2 things, Allow them to stop meter readers popping round to houses all the time and to try to prove that someone bypassed the meter. So far that has cost each individual in the UK (er... £200 per person). So are we all happy to spend £200 each to have electricity that can be remotely switched off and monitored and of course a little screen which tells you, you are using electricity to power the little screen? Apparently that somehow saves loads of CO2. Personally have an Electric Car, and even now I get meter reading people say to me "Your meter's not right, you can't be using 40KWH per day" in the future I'll be forced to have an app which says "You are using to much electricity, ask our Twitter Team for advice on how to use less".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Allow them to stop meter readers popping round to houses all the time and to try to prove that someone bypassed the meter."

      I get a quarterly email asking me to read my meter and send it via the Eon web site - which I do promptly. On several occasions a meter reader has called a few days later and has been surprised that it is an unnecessary duplication. I wonder if my apparently frugal use of electricity compared to my multi-occupant neighbours raises a flag that something may be amiss?

  21. Avatar of They Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I have one from scottish power.

    The battery is less than an hour (the guy told me and I have timed it.)

    So I have to plug it in - so not really saving energy.

    Only energy saved is the calories for me to go outside and read it then type that into a web page.

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: I have one from scottish power.

      No that is the in house display, you can throw that away if you want, all the radio equipment is in the actual meter.

  22. Andy Non

    Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

    The house we recently moved in to has old style gas and electric meters in the corner of the kitchen at the back of an L shaped cupboard. I need to get on my hands and knees and climb part way into the cupboard with a torch and twist my neck uncomfortably upwards to get the meter readings. Our supplier requires me to do this every month. I'm too old for such contortions. Only thing is, I can see a smart meter fitter taking one look at where the existing meters are and saying "no chance pal". Plus we will likely change supplier at some point, and if the meter no longer works after that it is just a complete waste of time and money anyway.

    As for smart meters saving us any money, it is extremely unlikely as we are already very careful with energy consumption and take the view that in Winter we expect to wear suitably warm clothing indoors and not crank up the heating while wearing summer attire.

    So can't make up my mind whether to have a smart meter fitted or not.

    1. Gerry 3
      Boffin

      Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

      Use a camera with a selfie stick instead.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

      Camera on a stick, or stick a RasPi down there...

      Probably more power efficient (even with a camera) than a smart meter...

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

        What's wrong with a good old fashioned mirror on the wall and a torch?

        1. Andy Non

          Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

          Nice ideas with the mirror and camera, but I need to repeatedly push the button on the electricity meter to cycle through the display to get both the daytime and night readings. Unfortunately that means being on my hands and knees in the cupboard.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

            Nice ideas with the mirror and camera, but I need to repeatedly push the button on the electricity meter to cycle through the display to get both the daytime and night readings.

            A Raspberry Pi can easily control a servo or solenoid positioned to push that button for you, as well as run the cam. And you only need to power it up the moment you actually need to read the meter.

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

              Stoneshop A Raspberry Pi can easily control a servo or solenoid positioned to push that button for you, as well as run the cam. And you only need to power it up the moment you actually need to read the meter.

              That's an excellent suggestion, but I can't help feeling that we're heading into Wallace & Gromit territory here. Something like this.

    3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

      For once, the americans did it right.

      They have standardised meter sockets. Change supplier ? Take out old meter, plug in new one. No longer paying ? Supplier removes meter, power goes off.

      Sure, it's not foolproof, but it makes our meter scheme look, if not an outright lie, pretty stupid.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

      "Plus we will likely change supplier at some point, and if the meter no longer works after that it is just a complete waste of time and money anyway."

      The newer SMETS2 meters are supposed to be supplier agnostic so if you do decide to change I would suggest writing to them on old fashioned paper and communicating by old fashion Royal Mail and then specifying a SMETS2 meter or no deal. They are eager to meet their targets to avoid fines, so may well oblige. And if they turn up with the wrong meter, you can easily refuse it. (and if they phone you about it, point out you wrote to them and expect a reply in writing for legal reasons (unspecified, naturally :-))

    5. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

      This is not difficult to fix.

      Option 1. Get a mirror, mount it so it can give you the picture you need from a more comfortable place

      Option 2. Tell the provider that if they want a reading, they can come and read it any time they give you 48 hours notice so you can say if you are available or not.

      Option 3. Move the meter to somewhere more convenient

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reluctantly may have to get a smart meter.

        "Move the meter to somewhere more convenient"

        Several years ago I paid British Gas to move the gas meter from inside the garage to a box on the outside wall. That worked well for many years.

        Then I had a phone call from said company taking me to task for not submitting manual readings. Apparently they had changed their meter reading to the legal minimum of once every two years. I pointed out that if they had sent a periodic automated phone call or email like the electricity supplier then I would have obliged. I think they now send such a phone call about once a year.

  23. Rich 2
    WTF?

    Germany

    Am I correct in reading (probably on El Reg) some time ago that Germany had abandoned its smart meter roll-out because it was a waste of money?

    And if that's so, how does that tally with it being an EU directive?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Germany

      Rich 2, you have obviously had your head in the sand - Germany and France are very keen on every member of the EU following EVERY diktat issued from Brussels - except themselves.

      Have you never wondered why everybody else's economies are going down quicker than the number of Tories who /haven't/ been Brexit Secretary while the French and the Germans seem to be able to weather any storm that comes along? Maybe ask the Greeks how much they like having an unelected bunch of Brussels-based Eurocrats controlling their economy, or the Italians how they feel about their recently-elected government - elected largely on the basis of their fiscal promises - being told to go away and come back with a budget that matches what Brussels wants.

      And now Macron and Merkel want a "European" Army? Not that this is really new - if the remoaners hadn't lost the Brexit referendum, that nice Mr Junker was supposed to start a tour of the EU requisitioning... sorry, /requesting/ people and hardware to form the core of... a central European Army. It's a matter of public record - but they don't want the public aware of it. I wonder why?

      1. OwenMc64

        Re: Germany

        Re Germany's actions on smart meters, a quick search on t'web found this 2 year old summary:

        https://www.navigantresearch.com/news-and-views/unraveling-germanys-smart-meter-strategy

        Which follows on from a new law that got passed in 04/2016:

        https://www.twobirds.com/en/news/articles/2016/germany/july/germany-launches-smart-metering-roll-out

        Quote: " Contrary to other areas of energy policy, such as renewable energy, the German government has been wary of the costs associated with this task.", which I have to say sounds like a prudent view.

        From the EU directive:

        -------------------

        2. Member States shall ensure the implementation of intelligent metering systems that shall assist the active participation of consumers in the electricity supply market. The implementation of those metering systems may be subject to an economic assessment of all the long-term costs and benefits to the market and the individual consumer or which form of intelligent metering is economically reasonable and cost-effective and which timeframe is feasible for their distribution.

        Such assessment shall take place by 3 September 2012.

        Subject to that assessment, Member States or any competent authority they designate shall prepare a timetable with a target of up to 10 years for the implementation of intelligent metering systems.

        Where roll-out of smart meters is assessed positively, at least 80 % of consumers shall be equipped with intelligent metering systems by 2020.

        The Member States, or any competent authority they designate, shall ensure the interoperability of those metering systems to be implemented within their territories and shall have due regard to the use of appropriate standards and best practice and the importance of the development of the internal market in electricity.

        -------------------

        Reading the first article, I'd say the German view just echoes that of many of the previous contributors here: "Not worth it, freund", so they targetted it at the higher users.

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Germany

        What's wrong with a European army ?

        We've spent the last few hundred years fighting pointless wars with the rest of europe, and are doubtless about to start again soon. What better way to avoid fighting than being part of the same army ?

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: Germany

          Seems like a reasonable response to the orange baboons recent threats.

  24. adam payne Silver badge

    Smart meters are meter readers nothing more.

    We've already seen how unsecure they are and how they get turned into a glorified brick when you change energy supplier.

    What is the point in spending such a huge amount of taxpayers money for something that clearly doesn't work!?!

    The thing that really gets on my nerves is that the best tariffs are already smart meter only.

    I do not want a smart meter and i'm not going to be forced into having one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Forced to have a smart Meter !!!??? ...... Where is that ?

      I don't know where you are forced to have a Smart Meter !!!

      Where I live I cannot get one if I ask !!!

      That is with 3 different Suppliers, not to mention I am in a mobile 'not spot' where the signal is variable and inside the house is pot luck getting a connection. (apparently this is not a problem which is somewhat a surprise as this is the way the Smart Meters are supposed to deliver their data back to the 'Mothership'.)

      I was told 'Yes' then the bods who came to do the job said 'No' !!! [1st Supplier]

      The other suppliers simply say 'Not in your area ..... yet !!!' (3 years later still the same !!!)

      I cannot understand why the idea has been so badly implemented, different meters and standards that means swapping supplier requires a meter change, often from Smart back to 'Dumb' meter !!!

      Is it too hard to define a standard Smart Meter that *ALL* the Suppliers can use ???

      Yet another example of an idea half thought through then millions of pounds thrown at it to solve a problem badly and of course late as per usual for virtually every nationwide project.

  25. Gordon861

    Reduction in Customer Bills or Cost to Suppliers Collecting Data

    If this is really supposed to reduce the money that the public are paying in their bills by encouraging people to turn things off, just buy every household something like the basic OWL meter and job done. You might need someone to install them in the houses of little old ladies but this could be done during a yearly visit.

    But I suspect that the real reason this is being supported is that the suppliers will be able to get readings a lot cheaper and if they do need to disconnect you they can probably do it remotely.

    Appx 27mil homes in UK, basic OWL meter £35 (probably cheaper if you need a few million of them)

    So total cost £945,000,000 or less than 10% of the budget for the Smart Meters

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reduction in Customer Bills or Cost to Suppliers Collecting Data

      "buy every household something like the basic OWL meter and job done"

      Had one for five years or more, it does what it does and it is what it is, simple, low-cost, effective.

      But it is simple, low-cost, and effective precisely because it has no remotely addressable off switch.

      Oh, and because there's no reason to involve Crapita.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smartmeters installed a month ago...

    Gas - working fine apparently, looking at my account it seems to be reporting daily.

    Leccy - nothing. Not a single reading submitted since it was installed.

    The little in house display gadget is working fine for both too - turn on the microwave and watch it go :)

    Guess the meter readers are going to still be in a job for a while yet then.

  27. Adelio

    Saving me money

    Well, having had a smart meter for a few years Now (eon) that no longer work since I switched away.

    How EXACTLY am I supposed to "save" any money.

    Never did look at the display even when it worked.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Smart meters are meter readers nothing more."

    I wish you were right, but you're not.

    The nationally important (and highest cost, to build and to install) part of what the industry laughably still tries to call a "smart meter" is the remotely addressable off switch, whose purpose is electricity demand management.

    For real(ish) time electricity metering, you don't need an expensive off switch, you don't need an expensive/intrusive installation visit, you just need something like a domestic equivalent of a clamp-on ammeter and some electronics. These wouldn't need any real rewiring at all and can be bought retail for maybe £40 per unit.

    But the clamp-on ammeter equivalents don't provide the capability to switch off the domestic supply, and are therefore no real help when there is a real need for large scale demand management at short notice, on a remotely controlled and *selective* basis.

    Here's BigClive's 15minute look at what's inside a recent(ish) UK Smart 'Meter'. See if you can avoid spotting the remotely addressable off switch - most of the commentards here so far don't seem to have realised that's what Smart 'Meters' are actually about.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G32NYQpvy8Q

    (I'm told that if you're an Ovo customer you may recognise this meter as a Liberty 100, or maybe its bigger brother, the Liberty 110).

  29. NinjasFTW

    Capita gets a big piece too

    Don't forget that to make the SMETS2 meters only work because all the data is centralised at Data Communications Company (DDC) which is owned by Capita.

    Why would anyone trust their information to it if they didn't have to?!?!?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Capita gets a big piece too

      Actually it's a very nice cash cow for all the major IT suppliers that didn't win the bid (or didn't bung the right Lord the right "campaign contribution").

      Let see..... you have:

      Capita - Squeezing every bit of the SDCC company to maximise profit and rebuff any attempt at delivering anything decent IT wise. Ask any member of current or former employ and you will find they suffer from poor IT. systems from Capita.

      SDCC - essentially a contract management piece with a fair amount of testing capacity. Wants to be more than just a Capita rebrand and is hoping against hope that Capita and BEIS will let them act in accordance with the licence, at least in spirit.

      CGI - Is there anything these guys deliver that is any better than Capita? essentially lost out to Capita as Capita decided to loss lead then subcontract the dev/test/sit/UAT etc subsystems out.

      Telefonica - another also ran for other gov projects (such as a major police force). Given the contract to deliver an APN essentially to work the customer end data.

      Arquiva - yet another also ran using legacy tech to reach the arse end of nowhere.

      BEIS - a quango built from self interested parties from the big 6.

      What could possibly go wrong?

  30. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Just keep the meter and give me 18 quid....

    There is literally no incentive for me to have one of these things attached to my house. I use the energy I use because I need to use it. I know how much it costs me, I pay the fucking bill!

  31. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    give it

    a couple more years and there'll be plenty of tales of

    "The smart meter said I used 100 quids of electrickery, the supplier adjusted the direct debit to match, the bank rejected the debit as there was only £50 in the account, therefore the supplier automatically switched off the power..... all this took less than 3 seconds and we're left sitting in the dark"

    Thats the real reason for smart meters, because at the moment you have to do expensive things such as going to court for a warrent and getting people in to cut off the power for non payment....

  32. swampdog

    Missing smart meter tech

    The one bit they did miss was the ability for a smart meter to pull power from the cheapest provider at any given time. That would have sold it to the public..

    Q: "Who do I sign up with?"

    A: "Doesn't matter mate. The meter will go find the cheapest itself"

    Q: How do I pay the bill?"

    A: "Doesn't matter mate. You'll only owe the minimum rate possible. Let the providers sort it out. It's a bloody smart meter after all innit?"

    ..he thinks to himself as he exits cloud-cuckoo land with a thwack.

    [note] Never feed a stray thwack. They make terrible pets.

  33. Bloodbeastterror

    "for you and I" FFS!

    I'd like to read this article to reinforce my prejudice, but I can't get past the sub-headline.

    For god's sake, is it too much to ask that a professional writer has at least a minimal understanding of grammar? "for you and I"...? Really?

    This is the result of a failed desire to be seen as educated - emulating Queen-speak. Unfortunately the Queen does have a proper education and would never make this gross error.

    "My husband and I went to the beach. The crowds saw my husband and I on the beach."

    I think not. The simple test is to remove the other party, in which case the second sentence above would become "The crowds saw I on the beach." The Queen is not a Rastafarian, and I doubt that the writer is, so the sub-headline is garbage. As is the English of the author.

    Rant mode off...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "for you and I" FFS!

      Adapt to change or be trampled by it. You can't stop it.

  34. WhatAboutBob

    Twice I've been scheduled to get a smart meter fitted. Both times no-one showed up. Not surprised the rollout is so far behind schedule.

  35. Lee D Silver badge

    Sack Siemens.

    New flat, new supplier, they offer to change Pre Pay meter to "smart" meter.

    I went with it as I wanted a day off anyway, and they offered me credit against my electric for doing so (plus, I could top-up from my phone rather than having to mess about with keys).

    They asked all kinds of details about the meter (it's YOUR meter... you check it regularly because I get the emails every few months... why do you not know?!). Including whether I had storage heaters (Yes) or dual-rate meter (Yes).

    Woman from Siemens turned up on my day off. Saw the storage heaters. Said "I've not got the right meter". Disappeared never to be seen again. A year on, no follow-up. But I still keep getting the same spam email about "Would I like a smart meter?"

    Sure, compensate me for a lost day off, plus the other day to actually do the job this time, and I'll think about it.

  36. trev101

    I've refused to install a smart meter numerous times and glad I did. The benefits looked good but when I realised I am giving power away and knowing how remote connected devices can be hacked I refused to believe in the official message. I have also stopped many others in installing them.

  37. trev101

    Smart meter benefits are for the provider gaining remote control of power to your house.

  38. steelpillow Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Cost to the consumer

    With the cost of minor updates being passed on to the consumer, how much are these f*cking things going to cost us once their pwnage gets so obvious even the industry has to admit it, and security fixes start coming through - at cost plus? And how blindingly in-your-face-and-out-your-*rse is exploitation at scale going to have to get before that happens?

    Amber Rudderless will get a peerage for this, no doubt.

  39. BRYN

    I have a newbuild shoebox. My smart meters where installed when the house was built. No electric or gas company will sign me up to a smart tariff without replacing the smart meters with there own smart meters. The irony is the smart meters they want to fit are the same makes/models of what is already installed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Free cash.

      Budget for fitting meters = almost unlimited = "Sorry Sir, you must need a new meter". ;)

  40. N2 Silver badge

    Before I read the article...

    The first thing that entered my head was only Crapita is capable of such biblical incompetence?

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Before I read the article...

      You give them too much credit.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart meters different uses different markets

    Different markets (or grids, power system operators) have different reasons for installing Smart Meters (SM). Different markets use different advertising pitches.

    If the customers in one market are going to believe a saving power pitch the SM will be sold as a power saving device.

    If the customers want the system to be more stable then it will be marketed as helping with that.

    If the customers will accept the costs to lower CO2 emissions, it will be marketed as doing so.

    When we as end consumers from around the world talk about SM those different sales pitches can be seen in the comments.

    So I'll ask to consider why are sales pitches needed?A; Because these devices were never wanted or needed by the end user of electricity. If they were not forced by legislation it would remain a niche market, might not even be allowed in some markets.

    What lead to you having a SM I do not know but I saw a bit of how it happened in one market.

    The Utility, the power company, noticed the over the decades power consumption of household was increasing, obvious as the size of the services for each home were increasing. In itself that is a very good thing, standard of living and energy use is directly related, and it meant more money for the power companies.

    But in the 80's and 90's another change was the increased use of VARS and production of Harmonics from households that previously were almost 100% resistive loads.

    That added costs, none of which the end user could be made to understand and if most users did understand would cause problems for the Power suppliers and the industry. The main reason for grids to exist is to power industry, they are the largest users, they have the most money and influence.

    Those big users use their big consumption and big money to get the best deal for them. When it comes to individual consumers, they have to look to politicians and regulators for protection, and the 20th century shows how well that model has worked for us.

    Combined, individual consumers are a huge part of the grid, the largest by miles of conductors and connections so when that load began to change power companies started looking at what can be done to pass on extra hard to explain costs.

    And they were trying to do that when our economy was shrinking, real wages falling, no one wanted to spend money on infrastructure, and of course the less people know about how we finance electrical infrastructure the better.

    At roughly the same time other parts of the industry had issues to address. Billing is always looking for angles to generate more profit and they came up with great ideas, like connection fees, transmission fees, particularly effective and needed in deregulated markets. When billing first heard about SM they knew right away it was for them.

    Special interest groups (many more of those involved than people know) saw that SM meant more information, more control for them and that means more money and political power for them. Lots of early promoters of SM there.

    Politicians love taxes! Taxes are the governments food and there can never be enough. When SM were offered as a "solution" to electrical grid issues governments the "potential" for tax revenue seem only limited by the "resistance" of the goose to being plucked (to mix mets). Making it even more attractive was the suggestion that soon people would have electric cars.

    So there was no one reason for SM showing up in residences around the world, there were many.

    Having an idea with wide spread support among everyone but end users helps explain why there are so many myths and variations surrounding their use. We are being fed whatever line works on us.

    Rest assured SM were never introduced to help customers. They will not save you money, BTW it isn't about saving power or electricity, nothing ever is. It is only ever about saving money, making money, not spending money. As some in the industry like to remind co-workers, we are not in the electrical business, we are in the money business.

    That is another thing the industry does not want people to consider. It isn't about electricity or carbon or whatever people think, it is only about money. The industry and it's actions gets easier to understand when it is looked at as a money generating machine.

    Electricity is in many ways just a distraction. Like wanting people to look at the per kWh charge on the bill rather than calculate the per kWh delivered. Notice you have to calculate that yourself, yet that and the money due, is the only numbers you really care about.

    It is the foundation of our society, it's growth has allowed our growth, energy is everything and the industries supplying it are some of the most sophisticated we have. And that sophistication isn't just at the engineering end of the business.

  42. Spanners Silver badge
    WTF?

    I still don't see...

    It is not immediately obvious how they are supposed to save me money

    Having moved recently, I already have nice new fridge, cooker, dishwasher, TV etc. The place was reinsulated and, being health and over 50, I am not an overenthusiastic user of central heating.

    How does having a little wifi gizmo and the ability to put the app on any phone or tablet make me use less electricity? I have had the occasional letter telling me what % of my bill is made by different things. This is interesting but does not affect the fact that unless I turn them off, that is how much power they use.

  43. P0l0nium

    Business Analyst Needed

    My experience with Mpower and Arrow Energy (Names have been changed to protect the "innocent"):

    Supplied by Mpower - They insist on fitting smartmeter.

    Nice bloke from Lowri-Beck comes and installs new gas and Electric meters.

    Smartmeter works well - nice !!

    Fixed price tarrif ends, Mpower hikes bill - Change to Arrow Energy.

    5 days after changeover Smartmeter loses tarrif information but still displays energy in KWH.

    5 days after that smartmeter loses connection with meters and the becomes expensive useless POS.

    When God invented the word "F*ckwit" he surely had this lot in mind .

  44. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I moved into a flat with a Pay As You Go gas and electricity meter, which charge far higher rates for the poor people who choose them than normal payment meters. I asked Scottish Power to swap to a regular meter but couldn't as they wanted to charge me £80 a meter They also charged a monthly service charge whether or not I used any energy. I'd been homeless so I never used the gas at all and used next to no electricity, just for a kettle, microwave, charging batteries, and lights I replaced with LEDs. The 'nominal' service charges were now my biggest expense, so I swapped to a provider that charged slightly more per unit but without any service charges.

    I was then phoned by the new provider urging me to let them install a smart meter. I knew I'd get no benefit from it but also no real risk to me so I agreed just out of gratitude. I regretted that when I got the appointment letter stating if I wasn't in on the appointed date then they'd fine me £10,000 - totally illegal I know, but an unfriendly and intimidatory measure. I was tempted to miss the appointment out of spite but I went ahead just so I don't have to let them in ever again. I use the small display over the toilet so I can pee accurately in the middle of the night without turning on a light. - they should mention that use in their advertising.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This system is great!

    If you will be needing to instigate rolling black-outs easily, in the near future.

  46. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I had a Smart Meter installed by Scottish Power I assume it must be a SMETS1 meter, since after moved to another provider and they told me that the meter could not be used on their service. So had to go back to giving meter readings every month.

    Installing SMETS1 smart meters that only work with one provider is just a massive waste of money, as they will end up getting binned when they finally get replaced with SMETS2 meters.

  47. The obvious

    The biggest security risk...

    is risk to my supply when some fat-fingered Herbert at my supplier (or possibly another supplier) disconnects my supply for no good reason (or when they fuck up the billing, which wouldn't be the first time that's happened.)

  48. All names Taken
    Facepalm

    Money laundering?

    Maybe it is merely money laundering on a national scale?

  49. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Get SMART

    Did they employ Maxwell Smart?

    Looks like a typical caper for him. And where was Agent 99 while all this KAOS was being inflected upon us?

  50. Andy Livingstone

    What is this nonsense all about?

    According to the Gov.uk website right now;

    "Smart meters put consumers in control of their energy use, allowing them to adopt ... will be no need for your energy supplier to visit your home to read your meter in future. ... But there is no legal obligation on you to have one."

    Seems very clear, surely? So who says that UK homes need them?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ' That cost has now fallen slightly to £374.'

    £374 per meter?, Funny that, the gas engineer who came to fix a meter fault this week put the figure at £830, and, as he put it, 'we'll all be paying for them'

    For what it's worth, his opinion of the things, two words, 'bloody useless'

  52. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    If I'm smart...

    Does my meter need to be? I literally check the usage of items/devices and plan accordingly.

    Oh, efficient washer + dryer turned up, and 3D printer that I just checked the cost/price of running.

    Easy "shouting at everyone blaming them for costs and problems".

    Hard "working things out yourself or with others".

  53. Barrie Shepherd

    Real reason for Smart Meters?

    Am I alone in thinking that the real push for smart meters is so that at a date in the future our electricity usage will be measured in Apparent Power (taking power factor into account) as opposed to the current Real Power.

    One reason for this is the appalling power factor of modern electronic units - ironically one being LED lights!

  54. lsces

    What was the point!

    Had the visit to fit Electric and Gas ... already £30 up because of missed one ... but now we need one of the 'new' electric meters when they arrive as the one fitted can't access the gas meter, so they did not change that. I've still got to manually read the gas meter and the smart display is showing a blank usage quite often during the day. I'd had to wait for this meter as the previous ones did not support dual rate and one can see the joins where even this one has no concept of tracking day and night usage! SO as I say what was the point! Perhaps they should have built something that worked before they started pushing it out?

  55. sw1sstopher

    I've held off the push for installation...

    ...I attended an IT course last year, one of the other delegates worked for a major player in distribution of smart meters.

    After a bit of conversation he offered up the gem that ALL of the smart meters share the SAME encryption key. My understanding was that the key was of sha-1 generation.

    errr....It's a no from me.

  56. markowen58

    My 50p in the meter

    I've recently been hassled and there's no more accurate word for it by my energy company, who I used to work for coincidentally. Where the language they've used is that they 'have' to install the meter, which technically isn't a lie. The government want them to, they 'have' to, or will face fines.

    Meter aren't compulsory, and they've been sent away and I'll be leaving them when this contract is up and telling them implicitly they've damaged their brand by doing so.

    'Free' also being a load of BS, it's a subsidy applied to everyone's bills. I'll consider having one fitted when SMETS2 is more common, so I don't waste my money, but I'll not be forced into the wrong decision to meet their imaginary deadlines.

    I'd argue against the point that the big companies want this set up of smart meters. They've tried to lobby and have some concessions here and there, but as I've just pointed out. They're scrambling arse over tit to throw these contraptions at customers to meet an arbitrary deadline to avoid fines.

    Working there whilst earlier installs and trials were underway, they're no fans of the in home device, dreamed up prior to everyone having a smartphone (yes not everyone, but IHD could be optional instead of mandatory and offered to those without a smartphone)

    I'd always wondered why the data wasn't sent over the power lines themselves, granted noise and as usual a cobbled together infrastructure would make it difficult and costly, but then so is trying to get a 2G signal from the location of some meters.

    The only benefits I can see them offering is a small dip in usage when first installed for people who don't know or care about it. They'll go around turning things off for a while then get bored and go back to their usual habits.

    Also, having to employ less meter readers, although by law they will still have to inspect the meters every two years anyway.

    And, as some appear to be doing, making pre payment meters smarter so they don't have to pay a margin to payment networks at newsagents and can offer an app to take payments directly.

    Whole thing is a bloody mess. But then it's a government run IT project in essence. So why wouldn't it be?

    1. Gerry 3
      Boffin

      No legal requirement to inspect meters any more

      >although by law they will still have to inspect the meters every two years anyway.

      That's no longer the case, the requirement has been scrapped.

      1. David Hicklin

        Re: No legal requirement to inspect meters any more

        although by law they will still have to inspect the meters every two years anyway.

        That's no longer the case, the requirement has been scrapped.

        That has not reached the guy who read my meters a couple of weeks ago yet - he said they have to come annually to check that the installation was still safe.

  57. graeme leggett

    Not surprised

    I login to my online energy supplier account.

    Would you like a smart meter? It's free it says. Click here to arrange install.

    OK, I think. I forget to do the read your own meter thing. And getting down on my knees to look in the back of the cupboard is no fun either. So I click. Screen tells me my install is already scheduled - for January last year. With no option to change.

    At this point you know you're going to have to phone a call centre, and your heart sinks.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can do one.

    I own several rental properties and have just experienced this BS first hand. One of my tenants switched to a supplier / tariff that demanded a smart meter be fitted. Except they decided to move out before the meter was fitted. I've received letters first from the supplier and then from Siemens demanding access to the property to install the new meter. I can't even switch supplier until this is completed they say.

  59. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Wouldn't it have been cheaper, easier, and faster to just contact any utility company across the pond in the states where they've been using this tech for around ten years?

  60. VicMortimer

    Sounds like a Thatcher problem.

    Seriously, you guys had a nationalized electric system, and you gave it up. Ultimately the only fix is to re-nationalize it. Natural monopolies have no business being in the hands of private business, ever.

    We don't have it everywhere, but at least in my part of the US, power is generated by the federal government, and distributed by the local government. There is no profit motive, and it's relatively inexpensive.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to save some cash with a Smart Meter

    1. Detach from house

    2. Place in fireplace

    3. Place pan containing water over it

    4. Ignite

    Enjoy your tea.

    Send more meters, the last ones burnt really well.

  62. David Gosnell

    SMETS1 lock-in

    Can I reasonably assume the lock-in was designed into the standard for SMETS1, in order to appease the major "suppliers"? It seems more than coincidental that the roll-out came at the same time as the explosive growth of smaller leaner suppliers, and the market leaders will have been sh*t scared of the investment they would waste (or ultimately be spending on behalf of competitors with no capital to invest in infrastructure) if their efforts proved to be too easily portable. Now the market's settled down a bit, bingo, time for SMETS2. Might even think about it now, certainly wasn't going to touch with a bargepole thus far.

  63. Beerengine

    It will also give them the ability to start variable charging when usage across the county is nearing capacity. A quick text to your phone or even just a tweet saying the rate is going up in 5 minutes to manage the load across the country is all they will probably need to do. So the poorer you are the less likely it will be that you can cook dinner in the evening peak time as you won't be able to afford the electricity cost.

    Many problems solved for the electricity companies in one simple go,

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another thing

    Just remember that unless the specification has changed since I last looked, smart meters have the ability to be remotely switched off and to limit the maximum load to a value set by someone else!

  65. UnkDB

    Remind me of the benefit for me?

    I can probably save more that £18 by switching provider every year; but in doing so, the chance of the installed smart meter continuing to act smart is low (MoneySavingExpert suggests as possibly being as low as 1.2%).

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British Gas are appauling.....

    They outsourced their call centre to India and these folks have sales targets.....

    So, despite telling them, I dont want one and besides, didnt I under GDPR rules say I didnt want marketing ?

    Oh, also, Im not allowed one - my landlord doesnt want it! So, its NEVER happening....well at least this side of the crap technology.....ontop of this I have a letter from BG saying they will not offer me a smart meter "in the near future".

    So, anywhoo, they call me from this outsourced sales centre and tell me that I have already agreed to have the smart meter installed and when could they come to fit it.....

    I ask to speak to a manager - this doesnt happen and Im put on a hold of death....

    When I make a complaint - after several weeks, Im told that the GDPR rules dont apply as they arent selling me anything (eh, what...err???) and this is not marketting.

    On top of this "in the near future" just means they can start bombarding me with phonecalls, letters, emails and knocks on the door after 6 months.

    2 weeks later, I get another call and a letter......

  67. Tom 35 Silver badge

    They can do what we have in Canada

    Time of use price. Costs double at peak time.

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