Are smart meters a dumb idea?

Article published 16 September 2020

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WITH no pension increase this September and the cost of essentials increasing, pensioners are feeling the pinch.

Smart energy meters may be the key to cutting energy costs, a vital area for older people who tend to spend more time at home, certainly during the current pandemic, and end up with larger energy bills.

Smart meters have the potential to track your energy in very specific ways, they can learn when you are home, how many people live in your house and even how old your appliances are.

Smart meters for example send energy use data to energy retailers without the need for an inspector to visit a residence to read a meter.

Energy retailers say they can use this information to offer tailored energy deals for customers based on their specific energy use which would be cheaper than the current energy offers.

At the moment, smart meters do not deliver much in the form of savings. The savings features of these meters lie within their ability to track energy usage, but this sort of tracking is a feature that is currently not available.

That makes a smart meter a lot less smart.

Also, privacy advocates argue that usage information tracking is a huge invasion of privacy, and that there is no way of knowing what energy retailers would do with this information.

So, depending on where you stand on privacy, smart meters might actually be a dumb idea. They have thrown meter readers out of work and given dogs fewer opportunities to bark.

Aside from smart meters there are other smart technologies that are definitely smart and do provide energy savings.

In Queensland, smart air conditioners are being fitted with signal receivers that turn off an air conditioner’s compressor for 20 minutes during times of peak energy demand. A compressor is responsible for creating cool air. People have said they cannot tell when the compressor turns off, because the air conditioner’s fan is kept on which continues to circulate cool air.

Smart energy-saving technologies can reduce everyone’s energy bills. For example, during heat waves, energy becomes more expensive as back-up generators prevent power outages. In some instances, the price of a megawatt can go up from the usual $100 to $14,000.

Smart technology equals less demand during peak times equals lower megawatt prices.

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