Your electric company may have recently approached you and asked if you would like a smart meter installed at your home. Perhaps there is one already installed in your house, since smart meters first came on the scene, in the United States, in 2006. But do you want to have a smart meter? Do you need to have one? What are smart meters anyway?
What Smart Meters Are For and What They Do
Smart meters give utility companies immediate access to your electric or gas consumption. Instead of having a “meter man” come through your neighborhood and provide an estimate on what your electricity use will be in the next month or two, ahead of the next scheduled reading, smart meters provide usage data immediately through wireless networks.
If asked, the utility companies stand behind their statement that smart meters are incredibly accurate. However, homeowners who have recently had smart meters installed tend to show a sudden increase in electricity consumption and bills. How can the bill go up if the readings are accurate? The best answer is that the estimates previously used were not very reliable and you may have used more electricity than you were paying for before the installation of a smart meter.
What Is The Big Deal About Smart Meters?
Aside from questioning the validity of smart meter data, two issues may come from having a smart meter installed at your house: how will the data be used or shared and do the radio frequency waves that are omitted from smart meters harm your health?
Personal Information May Be At Risk
The data acquired via smart meters can tell a lot about the habits and people living in a house. Examples of information that can be gathered are:
- When you are home (from looking at electricity use peaks)
- How many people live in your house
While utility companies are supposed to seek your permission before sharing information gathered from smart meters, there’s no saying that it can be truly guaranteed.
Possible Health Dangers of Smart Meters
It is known that exposure to radio frequencies, or RF’s, can be carcinogenic. While the US and other countries have contentiously disagreed with the amount of damaging RF’s people may be exposed to, the FCC and the American Cancer Society both agree that the amount of electromagnetic wave frequencies people may be exposed to from smart meters, and cell phones is well within acceptable standards. However, countries like Germany, Italy, Israel, and Switzerland disagree and are listening to their medical professionals regarding the potential health risk.
Heath risks that can be associated with too may RF waves include brain cancer. Additional issues that are thought to be caused by RF’s, or that RF’s contribute to, are:
- Testicular cancer
- Heart Arrythmias
So, regardless of the FCC’s admission, there are documented medical cases of RF exposure contributing diseases and ailments.
Can I Opt-Out of Having a Smart Meter?
It is known that exposure to radio frequencies, or RF’s, can be carcinogenic. While the U.S. and other countries have contentiously disagreed with the amount of damaging RF’s people may be exposed to, the FCC and the American Cancer Society both agree that the amount of electromagnetic wave frequencies people may be exposed to from smart meters, and cell phones are well within acceptable standards. However, countries like Germany, Italy, Israel, and Switzerland disagree and are listening to their medical professionals regarding the potential health risk.
Heath risks that can be associated with constant RF exposure include brain cancer. Additional issues that are believed to be contributed by or caused by RF’s are:
- Testicular cancer
- Heart Arrhythmias
Some municipalities and states, such as California, Arizona, and Maine, allow for opt-out options. If you do not want a smart meter installed, they won’t upgrade your meter. So, the meter man can still keep his job, and you get the opportunity to have less RF exposure.
Be sure to check out the opt-out policy especially because some companies charge an opt-out fee, such as residents in Northern California experienced. This is almost counterintuitive since residents are mostly paying to request to limit their RF exposure.
Other areas and states, however, such as Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, make it mandatory to have a smart meter installed – you don’t get a choice.
The argument that any additional RF exposure, considering the Wi-Fi technologies, radiation from x-rays, and waves from cell phones that we are all regularly exposed to, are minuscule. This argument regarding smart meters is seemingly legitimate.
However, some citizen’s feel forcing them to silence their voice is a violation of their civil liberties.
Some argue the use of smart meters in the home is an added fire danger. Many meters do not necessarily meet fire codes, and there have been hundreds of fires reported with a smart meter being the point of ignition. Some of these fires were due to improper installation.
While smart meters have a benefit, to the utility companies, the risks to health and life of the people that are living around them don’t seem to carry much weight when a town or state decides to mandate installation. At least when given a choice, you can decide if you wanted a smart meter to help your finances or hurt your health, and which is more valuable.
To find out if you have a smart meter in your home, go outside to your electric meter to see if the numbers are digital or if there are dials with rotating numbers. The digital meters are smart meters. If you still are not sure, call your utility company and ask if your house has a smart meter.