Smart meters are pretty controversial at the moment. If people aren’t dismissing them due to the potential for data abuse and/or hacking, other people are decrying that they cause cancer due to non-ionising radiation (since the meters contain a 2G/3G transmitter/receiver). However, Cancer Research UK themselves state there is no evidence to this as yet.
Me? I don’t think these things pose much risk. At least not as much as your typical (properly configured) broadband router or mobile phone. After all, we practically all have Wi-Fi and mobile phones at home. Some households multiple Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile phones – I have only one of each. As for the security of the smart meters, providing they’re not using a global admin password (and the password is of sufficient strength) along with decent ACLs, then there should be little to be worried about. I doubt British Gas and the other energy providers who are already aware of the potential for criminals to attack the national grid are likely to implement piss-poor security on these things. Indeed, our very own GHCQ has been heavily involved with the smart meter infrastructure during the earliest stages.
Anyway, British Gas came round to install my smart meters yesterday. I’m on their new tariff which gives me free electricity between 9am and 5pm on Sundays – the ideal time for washing and doing hoovering.
The whole installation took less than 90 minutes – with around 30 minutes where the electricity supply was switched off, and about 15 minutes for gas.
As soon as the engineer had finished, he set-up the wireless meter reader in the kitchen which updates the figures every half an hour (and sends that data back to British Gas at the end of each day). It’s full of useful information including (based on my tariff) how much I’m spending on gas and electricity throughout the day in pounds and pence, in kilowatt hours, or by carbon emission. I can set budgets per day and be notified if I’m exceeding them.
Already I’ve seen an interesting spike for electricity around midnight. I suspect that it’s the variety of gadgets (Tivo V6, for example) performing nightly maintenance tasks.
Only time will tell if these smart meters save me money, but it IS making me think about the energy that I use.