Pros and Cons of the Smart Meter: Are there Better Alternatives?

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If you just recently bought a home and you are reading this, there is something you need to be aware of. Get up from the computer, go outside, and walk around the outer perimeter of your home. You will eventually notice a gray metal box affixed to the side of your home with a clear cylinder in the center. This is called a smart meter.

Smart meters are common attributes on many homes. They’re purpose is to monitor the power usage of each home and business by their respective energy provider.

As to be expected, the mystique surrounding smart meters and their collection of data has a lot of homeowners up in arms. Below is just a few of the grievances that citizens have voiced and the arguments for and against allowing meters to be installed on private properties.

Radiation

All information on the household’s energy consumption is sent remotely through a microwave signal. This signal broadcasts at a low radio frequency that has limited to no effect on an individual’s health.

The transmissions themselves are made up of low energy photons that, in large numbers, could heat up objects (just like a microwave oven). Experts insist that any complications caused by this radiation would have to be over a long period of time. Nevertheless, those concerned with the rads given off by smart meters have recommended purchasing an RF field detector.

Privacy

A smart meter features a ticking counter that acts like a speedometer on a car. From these readings, power suppliers are able to gauge the output of electricity they produce to avoid any potential surges or blackouts.

Collection of this data may fly in the face of the 14th Amendment. With programmable devices becoming ingrained in the household, it will make companies easier to monitor your behavior via power usage.

Safety Hazards

Meters are usually installed by a professional technician who follows a Code of Practice. Following this code means reassuring the homeowner that the meter in being installed safely.

As much as we put our faith in professional technicians, we still have to remember they are human and fallible. Former technicians have spoken out about how stressful the job can be. This stress has led to serious errors such as meters being improperly installed. Faulty installation may also be a contributing factor to reports of meters exploding or catching fire.

Consent

While some homes have their meters pre-installed, you have the right to refuse a smart meter. Hawaii has just joined a growing list of states with an “opt out” policy. Energy companies will still require some way to monitor your intake for billing purposes, however. Thus some alternatives need to be explored.

Owners of older properties have petitioned to keep their analog electromechanical meters instead of updating them to digital. Others suggest that companies eschew microwave signals in favor of DSL or fiber optic communication lines. Another is to adopt energy broker software so the owner can keep track of their own power.

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