F.A.Q - Smart Meters

F.A.Q.
Smart Meters

The advantages offered by smart meters and smart grids are not just a possible future – they are already with us in Europe.

So far, smart meters have been successfully installed in countries like Italy, Sweden and Finland. Over the next year, France and then the UK will follow.

Spain, Greece, Austria and Romania are also making progress. In many other Member States, smart meters are already used on a small scale. 

Based on this experience, these are the most frequent questions that consumers like you have asked about smart meters. See the My Country section of the website for more information on what is happening where you are.

At some stage, everyone will need a new meter (smart or not) because your current meter has a limited lifespan. Smart meters are now being introduced because technology has advanced to be able bring you more benefits than a normal (analogue) meter.

 

Despite this, roll-outs of smart meters are not obligatory in all EU member countries. The decision of your country to roll-out depends on an analysis of the costs and benefits. See here for more information on what is happening in your country.

The simple answer is no. It is true that your smart meter sends basic data on how much energy you use via a smart grid to your energy company. But, this is simply to:

 

  • Monitor consumption in your community and make sure energy is available when you need it
  • Accurately calculate your bill based on what you actually use, rather than just a prediction.

 

Only basic data is used by energy suppliers to perform their legal task of providing bills based on actual consumption. Furthermore, grid operators and energy suppliers protect this data against unauthorised access and manipulation. 

 

Your energy supplier has no interest in knowing which TV programme you are watching or when you have put the kettle on. Furthermore, just like the banking or credit card industry, the energy sector uses advanced security systems to keep your data safe.

 

The smart meter can produce more in-depth data to give you detailed insight into your energy use. You own your data. You, and only you, can give permission to others, for example innovative energy service providers, to use your in-depth energy use data in ways that can help you to make further savings. 

Not all smart meters in Europe use wireless communications. Instead, they rely on physical cables to communicate the data.

 

Smart meters relying on wireless communications produce significantly less risk than other common electronic devices such as mobile phones, baby monitors, wireless routers, laptop computers, and microwave ovens. Numerous reputable, large-scale studies have shown there is no tangible risk to your health associated with the radio frequency technology used by smart meters. 

 

How the smart meter compares to your other electrical devices:

 

Your device

Average strength of radio frequency signal

(uW/cm2)

How the smart meter compares (standing at a distance of 3m)

Mobile phone (held at your ear)

1,000 to 5,000

250 to 1,250 times less

Microwave oven

(standing at a distance of 60cm)

50 to 200 12.5 to 50 times less

 

Rest assured that, as with any electronic device using radio frequency like mobile phones or any wireless device, smart meters have been carefully tested and certified so they meet stringent safety standards.

Local regulations regarding disconnection are no different than those applying to manual disconnection through traditional analogue meters.

 

Even if in some countries smart meters are installed with switches that can disconnect energy supply remotely, national legislation protects you from being unlawfully disconnected, just the same as for a traditional analogue meter.

Again, no. Smart meters manufactured according to EU standards have not been known to combust or ignite.

 

There are no confirmed reports of any fires or explosions caused by smart meters in any of the over 3.2 million meters installed in large scale tests across Europe - unsurprising, perhaps, given the strict national and European safety rules smart meters must satisfy in order to be approved for sale.  Smart meters are ‘CE marked’, meaning they have also been tested by the manufacturer and properly approved for sale in the EU.