There's a lot of talk about smart meters and how they can help communities use power more efficiently, conserving energy and thus reducing costs. However, some claim that smart meters are hazardous to human health, emitting dangerous high frequency radio waves that can cause illness and disease.
Unfortunately, all of this conflicting information can leave consumers very confused about whether they should embrace smart meters or avoid them at all costs (something that is nearly impossible as many utility companies have already made the switch). Before you start crafting your tinfoil hat, take some time to get the facts. The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) recently released an informative video and fact sheet designed to help consumers refute the most commonly circulated myths about smart meters.
The smart, digital meter can transmit energy consumption information back to the utility on a much more frequent schedule than analog meters, which require a meter reader to collect information. Still, stories about being spied on or made sick by the meters has caused some to suspect them, and others to demand their removal from residential areas.
In an attempt to separate the facts from fiction, SGCC set out to refute the six most common myths about smart meters with solid scientific research. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
Myth: Smart meters are less accurate than analog meters.
Truth: Public service commissions require meter manufacturers to supply independently certified testing results to prove that their smart meters generate on-the-mark measurements. Prior to installation, utilities repeatedly perform accuracy tests, often side-by-side with analog meters.
Myth: Smart meters are a health threat because they communicate using wireless signals.
Truth: Radio frequency emitted by smart meters is well below the limits set by Federal Communications Commission and it is below levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, baby monitors, satellite TVs, and microwaves. In fact, you would have to be exposed to the radio frequency from a smart meter for 375 years to get a dose equivalent to that of one year of 15-minutes-per-day cell phone use.
Myth: Smart meters are an invasion of privacy.
Truth: Smart meters measure how much energy you use, based on time of day, not how you use that energy. Unless you install a home energy management system, smart meters cannot tell whether the energy used is from your oven, air conditioner, or hairdryer. Utilities adhere to strict policies, following state laws that regulate the use of personal information for business functions like billing and customer service.
To learn more, check out the video below, or read all six myths about smart meters here [PDF].