My smart meter’s so ‘dumb’ I have to press seven buttons to get a reading
By Paul Homewood
From the Telegraph:
Hundreds of thousands of households seeking to switch energy suppliers in the face of rising prices are discovering that their “smart meters” – which in many cases have only just been installed – will cease to work.
Technical flaws in the meters mean the “smart” function of transmitting accurate usage information is lost when households switch provider.
The issue has been known about for several years, but delays in the manufacture of the next generation of “universally compatible” meters means more of the old models have been installed than was expected.
That, coupled with a surge in energy prices which has prompted more customers to switch, means meters could be stripped of their “smart” capabilities in hundreds of thousands of homes.
And householders are reporting other problems with their meters, too.
The Government wants to have every household using smart meters by 2020 because, in theory, automatic, accurate readings will save money for both customers and energy firms, who will no longer have to pay staff to check millions of meters.
However, three years ahead of the deadline, only 4.9 million smart meters have been installed, out of a total of 53 million.
And there are growing suspicions that the devices are not as smart as their high-profile advertising claims.
The difficulty in switching is one issue. Readers in areas with poor mobile phone coverage report that the devices only work intermittently.
And the news from abroad is also worrying. A Dutch study of smart meters found five different models produced erroneous readings, sometimes up to six times higher than actual energy consumption. Distortions were most extreme when “green”, energy-saving equipment – such as LED light bulbs, heaters and dimmers – were used, the University of Twente Enschede research found.
And in Canada last year, energy firm Hydro One was forced to restart manual meter readings on 36,000 households in rural Ontario after widespread complaints.