Smart meters: What are the pros and cons?
Do you have a friend or foe monitoring your power usage?
More than 80% of New Zealanders have an electricity smart meter. While there are lots of pluses with a smart meter, there are also potential pitfalls. We take you through the pros and cons.
1. You get an accurate power bill.
With a smart meter, you’re billed for exactly what you use every month. No more meter reader coming around, or estimated bills.
2. You can track your power usage.
Most power retailers offer an app or online account in which you can track your power usage, and even forecast how much your next bill could be.
3. Homes with smart meters can get special deals on power.
Your power retailer may offer ‘time-of-use’ deals, so the price of power is cheaper at certain times of the day. Some retailers even offer free periods. This means you can choose to schedule the dishwasher, washing machine or clothes dryer knowing you’re paying less (or nothing during a free period).
4. Saving money and the planet.
Smart meters could lead to more efficient use of electricity in Aotearoa. By using power more efficiently, reducing consumption and peak demand, carbon dioxide emissions and other environmental impacts will be reduced.
1. Privacy concerns.
Smart meter data is extracted every 30 minutes. This means there’s the potential for your data to reveal when you’re at home and what your habits are.
It may also show whether you live alone, in a family of four, are on holiday, or whether you’ve decided to work from home one day a week.
Yet, there are protections in place to make sure your data is kept secure.
The Privacy Act, along with the Electricity Authority’s Industry Participation Code, sets out the rules about how data can be shared.
The meter company shares your smart meter data with your power company, for billing purposes.
Data in your smart meter doesn’t include your name and address, and the data sent to your power company is encrypted so that your consumption information is secure.
Smart meter data may also be shared with electricity regulators, technicians and distributors so the lights are kept on at your house. But no one else can get access to your meter data without your permission.
2. Can my smart meter data be used by the Police or government agencies?
Yes. The Privacy Act allows the Police and government agencies to request information from power retailers if the agency is investigating an offence.
The power retailer can say no, and insist the agency get a ‘production order’ (which is like a search warrant) to do so.
The same rules apply for analogue meters, too.
3. Can I get radiation from my smart meter?
Highly unlikely. While a smart meter uses radio signals (radiofrequency radiation) to communicate with your power company, you’re only exposed to very low levels of radiofrequency.
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