Not a week goes by without some kind of sales call on our home phone. Current ‘favourite’ is our energy supplier imploring us to talk to them about having a Smart Meter. We tell them over and over that we are not interested. I’m on the verge of reporting them to Ofgem for harassment!
We don’t need to know on a daily basis how much electricity we are using, and I really don’t understand why anyone actually needs real-time information. We’re not profligate in our energy usage and knowing how much it’s costing is not going to make one jot of difference to whether I decide to boil the water for a cup of coffee, nor how often I use the oven (and I am already aware that it make sense to cook more than one dish at a time). I also know that I could save money by not using the tumble dryer; some people drink, some people smoke, I use a tumble dryer. Yes, I do know how much they cost to run but refuse to live in a house where damp clothes are draped over radiators, steaming up windows and endangering our health. Those who advocate this ‘frugal’ way of drying washing should think carefully. Wet clothing which is left to dry on airers or over heaters raises moisture levels in the home by as much as 30%, a factor known to be damaging to health. Not only does it aggravate existing chest and lung problems but can actually cause a potentially fatal lung infection, especially dangerous to the tiny lungs of small children and people with auto-immune diseases. If you doubt this, Google it – there are literally dozens of reports/articles available on the dangers of drying clothing in this way.
Whilst energy suppliers are compelled to aim to install meters in every home by the end of 2020, the implication that we will must agree to having one eventually is wrong. At this point in time, there is no obligation and there is, in any case, little evidence to suggest that smart meters are actually saving people money. So called ‘energy saving lightbulbs’ and switches change the structure of electrical currents which, in turn, distorts readings and, according to a study in Holland, the inaccuracy can be as much as six fold! What’s more – open customer forums are awash with complaints of difficult to interpret data and inaccurate information.
In 2016 the National Audit Office reported that the estimated that the cost of meeting the Government’s target for rolling out the smart meter programme (the equivalent of £374 per dual fuel household) was under-estimated. Since then the overall cost has risen by half a billion pounds. No doubt it is continuing to rise and this will be hidden in higher tariffs.
There are other reasons for not needing a Smart Meter: they do not, as the original adverting would have us believe, alleviate the need for estimated bills. They would, if we paid the bill as it arrives but like the majority of households, we pay our energy bill in twelve equal monthly payments. In opting to be billed in this way, average annual use is estimated anyway.
Another Government-initiated White Elephant.