Smarten up on smart meters: 8 myths busted
By: Alexandra Dunsford-White
24 Mar 2021
Smart meter myths - we’ve all heard them. That’s why we’re going to set the record straight on a few of the most common smart meter myths out there.
Myth 1: Smart meters spy on me, and my data can be hacked
Believe it or not - smart meters can’t spy on you any more than a traditional meter can.
Smart meters only measure your energy usage - they don’t store any private information such as your name, address or bank account details, and they don’t have the capacity to see or hear what’s going on in your home. They’re not connected to your home internet, so even if you don’t have a broadband connection at home, your smart meter will still work.
Your smart meter and IHD communicate through a private, closed system called the Smart Meter Wide Area Network, which is just for smart meters. This works in the same way as other wireless systems such as car remote keys or TVs, using radio waves. This system is maintained to high security standards, and is endorsed by the National Cyber Security Centre, meaning your usage data is safe and secure. Find out more about smart meter safety and how your data is used.
Smart meter installations are actually making homes in Great Britain safer, and the smart meter rollout is the first time there’s been a nationwide programme checking the safety of the gas and electricity in all of our homes.
According to Smart Energy GB, in 2017 and 2018 combined, smart meter installers flagged over 635,000 existing problems such as dangerous wiring and fuse boxes, and even faulty boilers. Many of these faults would not have been picked up if not for smart meter installers.
Myth 2: Smart meters won’t let me switch providers
Don’t worry - having a smart meter won’t stop you from changing suppliers. At Shell Energy, we install the latest generation SMETS2 smart meters. As long as your new supplier is SMETS2 compatible, your meters will stay smart even if you decide to switch.
If you’ve switched your supply to Shell Energy with a SMETS2 compatible smart meter already installed, you’ll continue to have smart functionality. If you have a SMETS1 compatible smart meter from a previous supplier, you may lose smart functionality for a period of time, but we’ll work as quickly as possible to provide you with smart meter services again.
Myth 3: Smart meters will let my supplier cut off my energy supply
Suppliers can’t remotely ‘turn off’ smart meters, and they can’t control the amount of energy you use without your consent.
In short, smart meters give you more control over your energy, not less.
Myth 4: Smart meters can’t be installed in rented properties
The decision to install a smart meter rests with the bill payer. As long as you pay the gas and electricity bills in your rented property, you should be able to choose to install a smart meter.
We recommend telling your landlord before booking your appointment, as there may be rules in your tenancy agreement about how energy is supplied to the property, including the type of meter that can be installed. Landlords are being encouraged to help their tenants benefit from the national rollout of smart meters, so if your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to alter metering at your property, your landlord or letting agency shouldn’t unreasonably prevent it.
Myth 5: Smart meters can make me ill - they use dangerous radio waves
Smart meters use radio waves to communicate in the same way your TV remote or car keys do. In other words, they pose no risk to your health.
Don’t take our word for it - Public Health England (PHE) has performed numerous tests and ruled that the level of radio waves smart meters produce is typically one million times less than the internationally agreed guidelines. Dr Azadeh Peyman, principal radiation protection scientist at PHE, said: “We don’t consider that concerns regarding exposure should prevent people from having a smart meter.”
Myth 6: Smart meter bills aren’t really accurate
Smart meters end estimated bills by sending your meter readings straight to us, so you don’t have to. We use the readings sent to us from your smart meter to calculate your bill, so you’ll only be billed for the exact amount of energy you use. This means your bills are always accurate and true to your real usage.
You can choose whether we receive your readings monthly, daily or half hourly. We recommend changing your default setting to half-hourly, so you'll be able to get even more out of your smart meter. This can be adjusted through your online account.
With half-hourly meter readings, you can access an overview of your energy usage throughout the day, and see your peak energy times and where you might be able to reduce energy wastage in your home.
Myth 7: Can smart meters actually save me money?
Smart meters can help you to save money by giving you more control over your usage.
With the In-Home Display (IHD) that you’ll receive when your smart meter is installed, you can see exactly what you’re spending in pounds and pence. It gives you a better idea of what you’re using and can help you save energy. And if you use less energy, you spend less money.
Myth 8: Are smart meters really that good for the environment?
Smart meters play an important role by helping to create a smarter, more energy efficient grid. They help us to understand how and when we use energy, which helps the grid to better manage supply and demand. And with a smarter grid, comes less energy wastage and less carbon emissions.
They may be little, but they can make a big difference. Watch our video to learn how smart meters are transforming the UK’s energy system one home at a time, and helping to make the world even smarter.
How do I upgrade to a smart meter?
Get in touch and we’ll install your smart meter at no extra cost, in just an hour or two. It’s that simple.
- Electricity and gas customers: Visit our smart meter page to book your installation online today.
- Electricity-only customers: Contact our smart meter installation partner SMS Plc on 0330 094 5231 to arrange your smart meter installation.
- Prepayment customers: Call our friendly team on 0330 094 5802.