There have been many articles written about smart electricity meters - some supporting the increase in technological function and some claiming they are a bad idea.
As a company that compares all New Zealand energy retailers and their differing methods of utilising smart meter technology, we can set the record straight.
Firstly they save money on meter readers. This means that the meter reader won't be visiting your house anymore… Instead your smart meter sends a signal to a metering company which then forwards this data to your electricity retailer. This ensures that the data sent is always accurate and free from human error.
What's more, the retailers can now have access to meter data at any time - not just once a month when the reader visits. Having access to your meter reading at any time means that retailers can start offering special deals at different times, even incentives for saving electricity at peak load times.
It is estimated that 5% of all homes in New Zealand are charged the wrong electricity tariff. This is because the national database (the Electricity Registry) doesn’t have the right information about your meter type. Installing smart meters means the electricity retailers check your meter type against the national database. Unfortunately for some people this results in an increase in electricity costs. Electricity retailers have offered to refund any overcharged tariffs and will write off any debt where the customer has been undercharged.
The truth about Smart Meters
A number of older houses have electricity meters on the inside. This means that you had to send your Meter Reader a key, or worse, you’d have most bills generated based on estimates. Installing smart meters means that your bills are more accurate, and your meter reader isn’t going to turn up unannounced.
Don't smart meters increase your usage? Non-smart meters are mechanical and naturally slow with age meaning that you get a cheaper bill. Smart meters are accurate and a newly installed smart meter may read higher by comparison to the slower meter.
Aren't smart meters are bad for your health? While conclusive studies haven't been conducted, a smart meter using radio or cell technology transmits no more than a modern smart phone. Different people will have different opinions, but there is no imminent health risk associated with having a smart meter.
Are they an invasion of privacy? No. Retailers are not using your data for any other reason than to generate your bill. The smart meter is not "smart" enough to know what appliances or rooms are operating, just a number of units used for the period.
Smart meters are a good thing - they are accurate, complaint with current Energy Industry specifications and give an increased amount of money-saving billing options to consumers.