The idea of the smart meter was to better provide near real-time information that could be used to bill correctly, identify power problems and to eliminate the need for the carbon unfriendly meter reader. The concept was simple, stick a mobile phone inside the meter to send out data every hour, after-all the amount of data that was to be sent could have been transmitted in a single Text (SMS) message. Seems simple doesn’t it?
Are Wireless Smart Meters safe? It’s a question we get asked hourly it seems. We have always given the same response “they are no more harmful than a mobile phone”. Ask me the question, “Are mobiles phones safe”, and then I would have to say “no”.
However it’s all about context, mobile phones are safe as long as they are not on or in very close proximity to your body (e.g. in a pocket or under a pillow while you sleep). Wireless Smart Meters, as far as I am aware are not strapped to the side of your head for hours at a time therefore reducing the risk of damage associated with long term mobile phone use.
The quick evolution of Smart Meters and the abundant availability of other wireless technologies have opened a Pandora’s Box. Lack of understanding of these technologies and lack of engagement from the utilities is further exasperating consumer fears. Case and point being that I was contacted a few weeks ago by a concerned parent who had a PG&E smart meter outside of her brick built home. She was complaining that her son had nausea and unusual headaches and she had put this down to the fact that a Smart Meter was on the outside wall of her son’s bedroom.
Obviously this was a parent concerned about her child’s safety and wellbeing. I myself have recently become a first-time dad, and I will be honest and state that I will not allow cell phones, DECT phones or wireless devices of any kind near where my son sleeps or plays. This brought us to the conversation about her son’s bedroom, which included a wireless laptop, a wireless router, a PlayStation 3, a Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, an iPad, an iPod touch and a new Bluetooth headset.
It was clear that the smart meter was not the greatest problem in this home. However, because the media is focussed on smart meters we are ignoring other dangers within the home. Are you aware that a hairdryer creates an Electro Magnetic Field over 15 times that of a cell phone? (albeit at a different frequency)
It is all about context, we are quick to follow a train of thought that we do not understand, and equally we put blind faith into a belief simply because we don’t understand. Using the internet to research the health issues are just as dangerous as trying to research your own health problems because there will be thousands who say one thing and thousands that say another.
Smart Meters must undergo numerous tests in order to be deemed fit for purpose, those tests and certifications will include its EM output and its safety. Therefore it is ok to assume that these smart meters will meet the requirements as set out under law. We elect governments to protect the health and well-being of its citizens; you should be able to trust that they have your back.
Let us not allow the contempt you may have for a particular supplier cloud the real core issues here. More importantly let’s not believe the propaganda and wild stories that only serve to detract your attentions away from the real issues.
Smart Meters are just another addition to the plethora of technology that we invite into our homes; however some people feel that being forced to accept such a technology is in breach of their civil liberties, perhaps they are right, perhaps the freedom to choose should be honoured.
Take the issue of wireless out of the equation and ask yourself, “what is the issue?” meters have been replaced many times before; it has never caused this much attention.
If the issue is Wireless then other technologies are abundantly available that could just as easily do the same job as wireless, perhaps the questions you should be asking is “what are the alternatives?”
Smart Meters are not the enemy, they are not here to spy on you, nor are they here to cause you harm. Smart Meters are here to better manage energy. Clearly we cannot rely on the supply of natural resources, nor can we rely on the foreign imports of oil and gas. What we can do is try to make a difference for the generations to come and that will take great change at all levels.
Solar, Hydro , Wind, Electric Vehicles all need a smarter grid in order to make the most of what they each have to offer. Smart Meters are at the foundation of that Grid, they will allow for better energy management while also eventually allowing each and every one of us to become an energy supplier in our own right by being able to feed back into the grid from our own renewable energy projects.
I am an advocate for the concept of Smart Meters, I truly believe that by embracing the technology it will save me money and help save the planet at the same time, but like you I have my concerns and I will continue to ask the questions and so should you all.
Figure out what your own concerns are and discuss this with your utility company, if you are concerned about wireless then ask about a hard wired option, if that is not available then ask that they consider this, perhaps for an agreed surcharge utilities would consider piggy backing on your broadband connection as this is not beyond the scope of the technology.
Make your own minds up, and if you have a genuine concern or complaint then feel free to contact me directly using the contact form on the contact us page, and I will do my best to answer your questions or put you in contact with someone else who can.
So what is the problem? Surely anything that can help reduce costs and reduce energy is a good thing.
What was a simple idea is slowly turning into a nightmare scenario that is consuming people’s lives, fear is taking hold and the propaganda engine is giving rise to a new nation, one where mis-information and out of context research, articles and video are being used to further create hysteria.