back to article Smart metering will disrupt weather forecasts, warns Met Office

The Met Office has warned that Ofcom's planned deregulation of radio spectrum for Home Area Networking kit risks disrupting radar-based weather forecasts. The airwave regulator's recent public consultation into opening up new spectrum garnered overwhelming industry support for releasing the proposed bandwidths into the public …

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  1. Flatpackhamster

    Rationing, rebranded.

    I wonder how popular that'll be once people realise what their 'smart' meters are up to.

    1. S4qFBxkFFg
      Go

      "No thank you, I've probably already switched supplier several hundred times today."

      There is a slim chance this will work out all right; I am reminded of Cameron's (possibly batty) proposals to force utility companies to switch people to tariffs which would save [the consumers] money.

      If we're lucky enough that the media remember that when smart meters become big news then someone might actually start asking: Why not build this functionality into the actual meter?

      Every so often*, it would poll a list of the various prices (probably compiled by Ofgem and cascaded to the kit that's actually in contact with the meters) and switch to the best.

      * i.e., once per minute or so; if stocks can be bought and resold in microseconds, meters can switch tariff by the minute.

      1. David Dawson
        Thumb Up

        Re: "No thank you, I've probably already switched supplier several hundred times today."

        Speaking as a software developer. I would love to develop the back end that serviced that.

        It would be epic.

        1. Lallabalalla
          Boffin

          Re: "No thank you, I've probably already switched supplier several hundred times today."

          "Epic", according to my 9yr-old, is exactly 1.6x better than "awesome".

          FYI.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. MJA

        Re: "No thank you, I've probably already switched supplier several hundred times today."

        Sounds great. Until your next door neighbour works out how to connect their meter to yours. It'll be like the old days, except you won't need to trail a cable over the garden fence to steal the neighbour's utilities ;).

        Admittedly sounds great though. It shouldn't be down to the consumer to have to keep making sure they aren't paying over the odds for the same service. Maybe they should just have two rates. One 'pay as you go' and another 'pay as you guess'. Until that time, considering supermarkets can tell you there and then if a rival is charging less or more, surely it should be possible for your rates to be updated live. Even an update once per week would be better than having to go through a ton of comparisons, paper work and begging phone calls.

      3. itzman

        Re: "No thank you, I've probably already switched supplier several hundred times today."

        yerrs. disintermediation. Contract on a energy stock market to buy from whichever powerstation is offering the keenest prices.

        And watch them 'cartel up' to avoid being any different..

      4. Nuke
        Big Brother

        @S4qFBxkFFg - Re: "No thank you ...... etc etc"

        S4qFBxkFFg wrote :- "I am reminded of proposals to force utility companies to switch people to tariffs which would save [the consumers] money "

        No thanks, I've had it with people trying to save me money. Trouble is, they always assume that you are Mr Dipshit Average, and I am not.

        I once read comparison of bank accounts; they had run trial accounts for several months. I already had an account which I had worked out was best for me by far, but according to the comparison report it was the WORST. WTF ???

        Turned out the reviewers had operated all the trial accounts in a "typical" way. My particular account penalised you if you let the balance drop below £50 (AFAIR), and their "typical" usage did that. But I gamed the system, and never let that happen.

        Like I have an off peak meter now. I game that too, doing all the heavy lifting like washing at stange times of the day to take advantage of it, but I expect a smart meter would say "You can't do that Dave, it is outside our assumptions".

    2. Haku

      Re: Rationing, rebranded.

      "I wonder how popular that'll be once people realise what their 'smart' meters are up to."

      Sounds like the beginning of a Doctor Who plotline...

    3. The First Dave
      Headmaster

      Re: Rationing, rebranded.

      Can someone please explain to me how consumers are going to save £6bn when the suppliers are only going to save £700m ?

      My assumption would be that if every consumer dropped their usage by 10% then bills would then have to go up by approx 10% to compensate...

      1. haloburn

        Re: Rationing, rebranded.

        It's dead simple they are going to help you save on your electricity by turning it off for you at times of peak demand. What they are not saying is who is on the "never turn off" list or how the electricty firms will brand plans with subscriptions that include a price to keep your lights on while your neighbours have theirs turned off. Wait a few years and see legislation that turns off electricity at peak times for those on benefits or are deemed to be anti-social. Yeah you can benifit from lower prices if you arn't going to pay the price for having an always on supply, i'd buy shares in a candle company.

        1. Nuke
          Pint

          @haloburn - Re: Rationing, rebranded.

          Wrote :- "Wait a few years and see legislation that turns off electricity at peak times for those on benefits or are deemed to be anti-social"

          No, that would take the ASBOs away from their XBoxes and out into the street or the pub. It will be kept on for them.

    4. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: Rationing, rebranded.

      Now I am half way through cooking the Christmas turkey and oops the power is off. Sorry guys dinner will be late. Just not going to wash is it. Sorry that was not a pun but the washer is off as well. And if you were hoping to hang out the washing whilst the sun shines, too late again the power is off and the washing is not done. And the Met office could not tell us rain was coming so we have to use the tumble drier. Bloody hell am I ever going to get out of this loop!

      As the song goes "it all makes work for the working man to do".

      Anyway I thought that the Met Office is still part of MOD. All they have to do is tell MOD they are still using the spectrum. Simples!

  2. James 51
    Flame

    I can't see this being a target for hackers of what ever colour or political/criminal leanings. Nope, nothing to see (in the dark). Move along.

    Flames cause everyone still has an open fire, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yep... security is the key point.

      How long until someone provides a method to successfully modify the power usage of a bunch of stuff, region or even country wide? It'll probably happen shortly after adoption has become widespread.

      I can see it now... suddenly someone posts a proof of concept where power demand can be ramped down slowly over a couple of hour period, and then suddenly everything switches on. That kind of sudden demand could easily be enough to fry the grid.

      Then there's the rush to replace every device already deployed with the technology, before "terrorists" could take advantage of the exploit. Following on from that there's a repeated update cycle as new exploits are found. And of course the tech is so well integrated into washing machines etc that you can't just replace the chip. no. no. no. you need a whole new machine. More revenue to manufacturers.

      The savings quoted are bull**** once the security bods get their hands on this stuff they'll build themselves a nice annual revenue stream worth Billions.

      I don't have a problem with the tech, I just get pissed at people quoting savings when they should be quoting costs.

      /tinfoilhat rant

      1. Phil E Succour
        Headmaster

        Re: yep... security is the key point.

        >>I just get pissed at people quoting savings when they should be quoting costs.

        No you don't, you get "pissed off". To get pissed means to get drunk.

        Please don't pollute these forums with yoof speak.

        /Pedant rant

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: yep... security is the key point.

          @Phil E Succour - Languages change over time, it's what makes English in particular a very powerful means for communication. These forums are informal and you're therefore likely to get slang used. Deal with it, move on, other things are more impotant. Innit?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: yep... security is the key point.

            "Deal with it, move on, other things are more impotant. Innit?"

            I should of known their'd be some under30 commentard around who doesn't understand English let alone eats shoots and leaves.

            In particular in a tech environment, language syntax and grammar and semantics still MATTER. Awright?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: yep... security is the key point.

              Actually, I'm 40, I understand English perfectly well, I do find some elements of the modern use of the language irritating, but that's my problem. English is not a programming language and it's not fixed in stone. Just go to France to have a look at what happens when you try to preserve your language in Aspic.

            2. ed2020
              Thumb Down

              Re: yep... security is the key point.

              @AC, 16 April, 14:53

              If you're going to pick people up on their use of English you should probably pay closer attention to your own.

              It's "should have" not "should of". And "their'd" is just laughably poor.

          2. Nuke
            Trollface

            AC @11:59 - Re: yep... security is the key point.

            AC wrote "Languages change over time, it's what makes English in particular a very powerful means for communication."

            So did "pissed" just change from meaning "drunk" to meaning "angry" ? OK, but I'll just change it back again - there, done it ! Wonderful, this changeable language!

        2. ManxPower

          Re: yep... security is the key point.

          In the USA "pissed" and "pissed off" means "angry".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    Hmm,

    A faraday cage consisting of tinfoil is about to be fitted into my little cupboard where my PREPAY mater goes.

    They can bollocks if they think they are controlling my use of the invisible juice. I pay for it up front and i pay a lot. My monthly leccy bill is about £120....Slightly less in summer...

    I will employ *every* dirty (but legal) trick in the book to thwart the meters attempts to dictate when i can have power...

    1. JaitcH
      Happy

      @Cornz 1Re: Hmm,

      I'm with you on this.

      But since the frequencies are likely to be co-share (they are in other countries) a small transmitter on the control channel should suffice.

      It's not the energy efficiency that concerns me but rather that Plod and company can make use of this information from knowing when you arise to when you turn in and, even, when you go for a tinkle in the middle of the night. Very useful for some investigations or planning the optimum time to make an arrest.

      In the US consumers can decline the fitting of these meters.

      I can, and do, look after my fuel economy - even had the supply company come around and change the meter on a couple of occasions as they thought I was diddling the meter.

      One thing you can rest assured of is these are being installed for the benefit of the supply utilities and NOT the consumer.

      Here in VietNam, EVN (Electricity VietNam) encourages solar water heating and electricity generation. They even hand out information to assist people convert.

      My home, offices and two small hotels are all wired for 240V as well as 12V DC - and most all light fittings use PWM controls.

      If Toronto, Canada, can usefully employ solar collectors - why not the UK?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: @Cornz 1Hmm,

        rather that Plod and company can make use of this information from knowing when you arise to when you turn in and, even, when you go for a tinkle in the middle of the night. Very useful for some investigations or planning the optimum time to make an arrest.

        I really can't see how the police would be interested in knowing when and how often you go to the toilet - I think you might getting a bit paranoid there :)

        But as for the rest I think you're getting carried away there as well. The police already know a good time to arrest you. If they think you might be violent then they'll break into your home in the early hours of the morning. Alternatively sometime between 9am and 5pm at your place of work. They don't need the hassle and complexity of analysing your utility usage to work that out. People are by and large boring creatures of habit. That's you, me and everyone else. Few of us do anything unusual or act randomly enough to warrant in-depth surveillance.

        My only concern with this is the possibility of them turning off my equipment when it suits them but then we have a helluva long way to go before they can do that. The only way they can currently turn my stuff off is to disconnect the entire house from the mains. Until/unless every device has its own smart controller the plan is impossible.

        1. david wilson

          Re: @Cornz 1Hmm,

          >>"People are by and large boring creatures of habit. That's you, me and everyone else. Few of us do anything unusual or act randomly enough to warrant in-depth surveillance."

          True enough, though there are some people who like to believe that they are interesting/subversive enough for someone in power to actually consider them to be a threat.

          However, as far as I can tell, such people seem to expect that much existing technology is already being used to spy on people, while simultaneously being likely to use bank cards, drive cars with number plates on and use mobile phones like everyone else does.

          With the possible exception of people who use use mains-powered sex toys*, I'm not entirely sure what someone might have to fear from something recording the on/off times of their household appliances, compared to someone knowing where they've been, what they've bought, and who they have communicated with.

          (*which also accurately self-identify, rather than pretending to be massage chairs or electric toothbrushes)

      2. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: @Jaitch

        "One thing you can rest assured of is these are being installed for the benefit of the supply utilities and NOT the consumer"

        What he said

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: @Jaitch

          Yeah it'll be for their benefit for the most part. But in theory at least (hah hah) what's of benefit to the utility company is of benefit to us through reduced (or at least not rising as fast) pricing. Utility companies do only exist to supply us with something so there's a limit as to how far they will go to reduce our consumption.

          For the same reason you don't usually rely on drug pushers to control their customer's consumption :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Jaitch@AndrueC

            "Yeah it'll be for their benefit for the most part"

            Utter, utter rubbish. Smart meters were mandated by the European Union, on the misguided basis that they will lower energy demand. The UK government has, as usual bent over and taken it, and we are mandated to replace all energy meters with smartmeters by 2019. As electricity suppliers we are largely indifferent because the complexity and cost are not really matched by higher returns, on the other hand we're required to do it by law, and will be fined draconian amounts if we don't comply. Installing these will raise bills simply because there's hardware to buy and install. Estimates vary, but we're talking about £200 to £400 to replace an existing meter with a smartmeter, all of which goes on your bill in the end.

            Because the smartmeters aren't that smart (and indeed the mass roll out specification isn't even finalised), the only benefits they bring are that (in theory) meter readfings are always prompt and accurate, that you cut out mass meter reading (saves perhaps £5 a year per meter), and the biggy is this idea that if you have a display somewhere visible you'll cut your consumption. That last one is true for a handful of people, but for most of us smartmeter displays are no different to the energy monitors doled out in their millions by the energy companies. And those energy monitors achieved little, often going in the same draw as the sandwich toaster after a couple of weeks. Most of us find the bills we get sufficient incentive not to waste power, but the EU, clever people that they are, know differently. At the moment I don't think there's any prospect of UK standard spec smartmeters limiting demand (other than cut off for for non-payment, but even that's heavily regulatedf and would still take weeks). The information flows will be centrally warehoused by a new government mandated body, but the energy companies won;t have access to the data from their own customers (typical 5hitheaded governemnt botch), so users still have the privacy risks downside, the energy companies don't have the chance to full understand customer needs and usage. Not sure where smartmeters stand on multiple charging bands, but I can't see punters wanting to see even more complexity from five charging zones per day or similar.

            So there are two groups of people happy with the smartmeter roll out. Collectively the EU, UK government, DECC and all their tree hugger mates, and the suppliers of smartmeters.

            1. JP19

              Re: @Jaitch@AndrueC

              " biggy is this idea that if you have a display somewhere visible you'll cut your consumption"

              What I said years ago, eco green twat politicians can't resist the idea of forcing us to install personal guilt meters at our own expense.

            2. david 12

              Re: @Jaitch@AndrueC

              I would have upvoted you, but for this throw-away line:

              >(in theory) meter readings are always prompt and accurate,

              In theory, meter readings by a massive new software billing system are flaky and inaccurate.

              You may be different, but after 50+ years of computers I think I can say that any "theory" which doesn't take account of reality is completely and comprehensively busted.

              In the old days they used to say that "to err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer", so it's an old idea. More recently I've seen

              New Phone Billing Systems

              New Road Billing Systems

              New Smart Meter Billing Systems

              ---and each has been introduced with significant problems and failures.

              I've got a co-worker who didn't get a correct electricity bill for more than a year in his new billing system -- and then the company told him that they weren't going to worry about it because, under the law introduced to protect consumers using the new smart meter billing systems, he also couldn't make claims against old bills.

              These massive software systems are always more complex than people think they will be. It all seems so simple. It is not simple. It can't even be made simple. Companies have tried that too: simplifying it by ignoring edge cases or removing edge functionality does not work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm,

      If you want to pay less, get your meter moved over to a post-paid meter, the energy suppliers are not able to refuse that request and your bills will go down. This is even if you are paying off a debt to the companies.

      1. flearider

        Re: Hmm,

        strange my prepaid is cheaper than postpaid as you call it ..run the numbers ..

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Hmm,

      " I pay for it up front and i pay a lot. "

      You do indeed.

      IIRC the price per unit of electricity for UK prepay meters is (roughly) 2x that for billed meters.

      Of course it does mean you've got some light, TV and internet if you've just raided the local supermarket for cider.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Windows

        Re: Hmm,

        You do indeed.

        IIRC the price per unit of electricity for UK prepay meters is (roughly) 2x that for billed meters.

        Rent the house. Cant change the meter..

        Of course it does mean you've got some light, TV and internet if you've just raided the local supermarket for cider.

        I do hope that isn't some sort of a dig at my (unknown to you) employment status.

        If it is then, i work full time, have done so since leaving school, have no kids and cost the state the least possible amount, so fuck you...

        If its not, then i'm sorry but i dont know what it is you are trying to say. Would you elucidate please?

    4. Chris 3

      Re: Hmm,

      I bet you have unmetered water and leave your taps running all day too - just to show 'em.

  4. James 51

    In some parts of the UK the vast majority of homes are heated by burning oil. The vast majority of the tiny minority that are left are heated by mains gas. Not going to make much of a dent their.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Happy

      To be pedantic most heating systems still need electricity for normal use. Your gas and oil central heating is useless without electricity to power the pump. If you've got a gas fire you might be okay but a lot of modern houses don't have that and it often only manages to heat one room. Although remembering from when I had a pump failure mine did a surprising good job of heating the whole house if I left upstairs doors open.

  5. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Alternative

    Stick a dongle with a SIM in it in the meter - I'm sure the leccy meter could probably trickle off a teeny bit of power to transmit an SMS, the gas meter one might need a small battery, though. I'm sure the utility companies can come up with a reasonable deal with an operator to send 4 readings per utility meter per year (10m household * (%gas + leccy)?). What they really want, though, is the ability to limit consumption now that all the old power plants need decommissioning cos they're too old, rather than invest in new plants.

    If I want to install something that will allow remote management of my leccy, I'll own it myself, thank you very much, and it will not be accessible by the power companies.

    1. Ed Marden
      WTF?

      Re: Alternative

      Er, that's exactly how the current (smart) ones do work.

      Well, unless you live in the countryside where there's no mobile coverage, in which case a bloke turns up wanders around for a bit looking confused and then goes away again.

      I don't really understand why they bother, we always give the real readings, and always get estimated bills anyway. Somehow I suspect they'll carry on doing that regardless of "smart" meters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alternative

        That's the point - they don't need the new bands

    2. JaitcH
      WTF?

      @JetSetJim Re: Alternative

      QUOTE: "4 readings per utility meter per year"

      How about 10,000 PER DAY, which is far from unheard of in North America.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: @JetSetJim Alternative

        So a utility meter at one house is sending 10,000 readings per day? So faster than once per ten seconds? Seems excessive to report a household to this level of accuracy. Perhaps with a bit of extra work the meter could record such a profile over time and transmit that back to base but it seems overkill to get the meter to initiate a transaction to send that info back to base so often.

        Personally, I was speaking from the UK perspective of receiving quarterly bills - the utility companies ideally need a reading to produce each bill, they don't need to know my power draw at 2:05.30am on a Sunday morning and I'd question the usefulness of that data.

        1. Chris 3

          Re: @JetSetJim Alternative

          I think the idea is that the data is also used to feed a swanky digital display that you can pop in your house somewhere - so you instantaneously see the load when you pop a kettle on, or start the tumble drier. It's a fairly well tested theory that if people become aware of their power consumption they tend to reduce it.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: @JetSetJim Alternative

            @Chris 3: "It's a fairly well tested theory that if people become aware of their power consumption they tend to reduce it."

            Fairly well tested and disproved, AFAIK.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: How about 10,000 PER DAY, which is far from unheard of in North America.

        Citation required as I was unaware that Apple is in the SMART meter market.

    3. CABVolunteer

      Re: Alternative

      My mother-in-law had a water meter fitted last year. That allows remote reading by the meter-man using Bluetooth. The plumber who installed it said the meter charges the Bluetooth device from the flow of water through the turbine inside the meter. I'd have thought the same principle would work for a gas or electricity meter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alternative

        "The plumber who installed it said the meter charges the Bluetooth device from the flow of water through the turbine inside the meter"

        The plumber who installed it was talking out of his @rse. The highly varied and intermittent flows in a domestic water supply pipe are wholly unsuitable for powering anything, and for that reason the devices use long life lithium batteries with five to ten year life expectancies. There's other issues of head loss, cost and complexity, as well as the suitability of micro-generators in environments where debris and compressed air may be present.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Alternative

          Which, completely off topic, reminds me that my Lexus, with its nitrogen filled tyres and inbuilt pressure sensors, is coming up for 5 years old later this year. Any idea how long the batteries that presumably power those are supposed to last? It would be nicest of course if they had some kind of pendulum mechanism, like self winding clockwork watches, so that there were no batteries. But, even with Lexus, I suspect this is not the case...

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Boffin

      Re: Alternative

      "Stick a dongle with a SIM in it in the meter - I'm sure the leccy meter could probably trickle off a teeny bit of power to transmit an SMS, the gas meter one might need a small battery,"

      Many UK gas meters went digital (using an ultrasonic flow metering technology which was less accurate than the mechanical tech it replaced.

      UK gas companies want to phase them out.

      Having to replace the battery every five years is too frequent for them.

    5. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Alternative

      The trouble is that while it may be YOUR house, it's THEIR power and THEIR meter. Their rules IOW unless you want to go off the grid.

    6. MrXavia

      Re: Alternative

      Problem with that is they don't work in many locations, I was going to have one fitted, but the fitter couldn't get a signal!

  6. IHateWearingATie

    There is more to smart meters...

    ... than switching off washing machines.

    The idea is not forced switch off, but eventually you'll be able to choose a cheaper tariff that includes this functionality. if you don't want it, then you don't have to have it. It's a bit like the cheaper energy deals that aluminium smelters and other large industrial users have - reduced prices in return for switching off occasionally when demand looks like it might outstrip supply.

    There are other uses for smart meters as well, including much better monitoring of the quality and health of the electricity and gas networks. This is something that the national grid and the local infrastructure operators are wanting and planning anyway, so you combine monitoring from meters with monitoring at sub stations, gas interconnects etc and you can better respond to problems and manage increasing number of people choosing micro-generation.

    The technologies being considered are interesting - SMS is one of the options, but the problem you have is that some houses have their meters in basements and other places without a mobile signal and you won't always know that until you get to house to install the meter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is more to smart meters...

      "but eventually you'll be able to choose a cheaper tariff that includes this functionality"

      Maybe. More likely that smartmeters are simply the thin end of the wedge to force far more complex charging schemes on the general public. Why, for example, do DECC's current smart meter specs (see page 52 in link below) require smartmeters to be able to charge by half hourly price bands? There have already been plans (so far unsuccessful) to force some SME's onto half hourly charging regimes (google the terms elexon p272).

      Given the outcry of the "complexity" of bills featuring a single rate and a standing charge, is there a queue to have your electricity billed by varied half hourly bands, which further vary by the day? Thought not. Luckily DECC know what you want better than you do, and they are putting in place the technology to do this.

      Regarding your comments about better network knowledge, yeah, yeah. Remember when OFWAT kicked off the obligations to extend domestic water metering, two decades ago? It was really going to help water companies track down and kill leakage. And reduce per capita consumption. In practice neither really came true, with leakage still only fixed by area network renovations, and detected by the same methods we used back then, and per capita consumption wasn't really impacted at all by metering because the unit cost of the product is too low, and demographocs and technology changes trumped eleasticity of demand. It'll be the same with electricity meters, with all involved queuing up to sing their praises rather than offend government , but the practical impact will be just a big slug of cost with no benefit.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/68898/smart_meters_equipment_technical_spec_version_2.pdf

      1. IHateWearingATie

        Re: There is more to smart meters...

        Such cynicism..... probably justified.....

        As I remember, the reason for the 1/2 hour charging is partly to do with enabling spot price tariffs, partly to do with spot price micro-generation calculations and 1/2 hourly quality reads. If the electricity meter is going to be providing 1/2 hourly supply quality information, then you may as well allow it to provide meter reads every 1/2 hour as well.

        The network infra companies were planning to put in infrastructure to better monitor quality anyway - although cheaper than smart meters, they would still have been a sizeable chunk of the overall cost. Installing smart meters negates the need for that.

        As I understand, the water industry are thinking about tying their meters into the same system (remote reads reported back via the link the electricity meter has), but that's a long way away yet. However, coupled with better infra monitoring it'll really help identify leaks in the network (but they'll still not fix them, just know where they are!)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Owl?

    I don't understand what Smart Meters will do that my £30 Owl meter won't. I put batteries in both parts, clipped one part over my input mains cable in the meter box, and put the other in my study where I can see it. Now I know exactly how much electricity the household is using at any moment, how many kilowatts the shower, dryer, oven, etc. tend to consume, and how many KwH we use each day, week, etc.

    Why does any new spectrum have to be released? Why do the power companies need to splurge intimate details of our power consumption to everyone in the neighbourhood? Stop the insanity! And what is all this rubbish about "power management"? Another meaningless piece of management drivel. We don't use electricity unless we really want to, and have decided to bear the cost of doing so. I know there are some people who don't, but that's a different issue - they do it because they don't care, mostly. (And the main reason they don't care is that someone else is paying).

    The irony is that, once the novelty of my Owl meter wore off a few years ago, I stopped paying much attention to it. So consumption rises by about 460 watts when I turn on my grandpa box (on which I am writing this) - so what? The shower dissipates about 8 Kw - so what? (No silly puns, please).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Owl?

      Smart meters will be a hell of a lot more accurate than the "clamp round the mains input" type of meter as these meters can't tell if the voltage and current are out of phase, so will be accurate for a resistive load, but not for an inductive or capacitive load.

      The smart meters which are proposed will feed back more granular information to the 'leccy suppliers, in order that they can have a better understanding of what's being used when. This will in turn allow for cheaper tarifs at night (such as the old economy 7) to be more easily operated.

      There is also the option to allow certain high load equipment to be temporarily switched off by the 'leccy companies in times of high load. This requires a special switching plug/socket and is going to be reserved for the likes of fridges, air con units, immersion heaters, dehumidifiers, etc. the things which will be switched are chosen by the customer in exchange for a cheaper tariff.

      The big bogeyman is, of course, the ability to "cut someone off" remotely, I'm not going to make a judgment about this, but it will require a court order.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Boffin

      Re: Owl?

      I got given a "clamp round the mains cable" meter by Scottish Power when I switched to them a couple of years ago.

      After a week or so of checking, I found that, unsurprisingly, I was already using pretty much the minimum amount of electricity I needed because I do incredibly clever things like *switching stuff off* when I'm not using it!

      PS @ AC, you'd let the electriicty company remotely switch off your fridge? I hope you enjoy food poisoning...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Owl?

        Yes, I'd let them remotely switch my fridge off for five minutes when there is the ad break in Corrie, or whatever. Five minutes or so is not going to make a jot of difference to the food in my fridge or freezer. The only problem is if the switch doesn't come back on, but that is really very unlikely, I believe (although am not sure) that the proposal is for the companies to say "you switch off for five minutes" then the device in the home which does the switching knows when to switch back on and not to switch off for more than X times in a given period. (ie: it's fail safe)

        I also have a Scottish and Southern currentcost meter which I record the output from (did you know that the RG45 port on the bottom is a TTL serial port? It chucks out XML every 6 seconds) I did find a couple of things that I didn't realise were using a lot of energy, IIRC an old amplifier was one, I can't remember the other. However I can the graphing when I'm down the local for a quick one while the oven warms up to let me know when to go home and stick the food in the oven.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Owl?

        I completely agree with Graham Marsden. There are, broadly, two classes of electricity consumers:

        1. Those who care about how much they spend on electricity, and take care not to waste it.

        2. Those who don't care about either, and wouldn't care any more if they had a second-by-second colour chart of how many watts every single gadget was using. (Which they wouldn't bother looking at anyway).

        Incidentally, who on earth voted Graham's comment down? I can't imagine how any sentient human being could disagree with such logical, sensible remarks.

        1. david wilson

          Re: Owl?

          >>"Incidentally, who on earth voted Graham's comment down? I can't imagine how any sentient human being could disagree with such logical, sensible remarks."

          I take it you're new here?

  8. auburnman
    Joke

    Smart metering update

    This is an automated SMS from Smart Metering Central. Based on our usage statistics and tracking of your mobile it appears you left your home more than 1 hour ago but left some devices on. To improve your efficiency and save YOU money, your smart meters have automatically powered down the following devices:

    LOBBY LIGHTS has been powered down

    TV has been powered down

    FRIDGE FREEZER has been powered down

    CRITICAL SERVER 24/7 has been powered down

    Thank you for allowing Smart Metering to assist you in being more efficient.

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Smart metering update

      "TV has been powered down"

      Good grief man - do you want people thinking for themselves?

      They might actually see through the scam begin to doubt the benefits of a smart meter.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Smart metering update

      Missed the integration with the new Samsung S4 eye tracking - automated SMS to note that as your eye's were closed the TV, lights etc. has been turned off; only fly-in-the-ointment is the new message alert wasn't on silent...

  9. 123465789
    Stop

    real savings?

    So, they base their calculations upon US homes (with electrical A/C), and take those results to gas- or oil-heated UK homes without A/C. Surely that math couldn't go wrong... And even based on those calculations, people would save anually 5 £ each. Now how much is that smart meter going to cost? Installed and maintained for 20 years? 100 £? 200 £? Somebody is going to have to pay for these meters - and at 5 £/year, I'd rather not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: real savings?

      The vast majority of homes in the UK have GCH, oil is a tiny minority in rural areas. Often new homes have increasingly popular electric heating, where ability to switch on/off remotely would be useful.

      Also, all meters need to be replaced over a ~10-20 year period so the roll out is not going to be a vastly expensive elective project as it's something which will have to be done anyway.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: real savings?

        "Also, all meters need to be replaced over a ~10-20 year period so the roll out is not going to be a vastly expensive elective project as it's something which will have to be done anyway."

        Except every one of them will be substantially more expensive (while delivering very few benefits to the consumer)

        Now Mr AC, you were saying about it not be "vastly expensive" ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: real savings?

          @John Smith 19 - Cite a source for the cost, I've heard that it's a bit more expensive than a standard meter, but in the same ball park, certainly not substantially more expensive.

      2. MrXavia
        Thumb Down

        Re:oil is a tiny minority in rural areas

        Oil is the majority in rural areas I think you mean.. .While towns may have gas, the countryside has oil & coal...

        I have only ever lived in one house with mains gas, and that was a central town location, even when I have been living on the edge of towns its never been gas.. always oil or electric... and I grew up in a house with coal central heating...

      3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: real savings?

        No, oil heating is almost universal in rural areas.

        (Based on my experience living in rural Aberdeenshire)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: real savings?

          Yes, because Aberdeen in the very north of Scotland - where all the sodding oil comes ashore - is representative of the whole of the rest of the UK.

          1. auburnman

            Re: real savings?

            Yes, because all that refining is actually just a job creating exercise. We just slip someone a bribe to look the other way, tap the pipeline for a couple of barrels of crude which goes straight into the heating tank. Job's a good 'un.

            Back in the real world, the further North you get in Scotland the more expensive the fuel gets as it has to be driven further from the refineries.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: real savings?

              Yeah, because Aberdeen is famous for not having an oil refinery.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: real savings?

      Never mind cost of meter, what about cost of changing every single household appliance in every single home in Britain? 'Smart' meters cannot just decide to power down a fridge for 10 minutes - Electric wiring in homes cannot be controlled at the socket level, homes simply aren't wired that way. For smart meters to work the way being described, there also needs to be smart appliances that they are communicating with.

      So even if every single appliance sold in the UK starting 2014 is a smart appliance, it will be 20-30 years before all the appliances are smart and the full cost savings are achieved. In the meantime you have a massive cost of replacing old dumb kit with new smart kit, and even if you needed a new fridge anyway the new smart one will cost more than a new dumb one would have.

      In reality that's probably closer to 40-50 years before the envisaged £5 per head cost savings can be achieved, during which 40-50 years the overall cost of appliances has dwarfed any future savings many times over.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: real savings?

        @James Micallef - We're not talking about replacing the appliances, but putting smart switches inline with their mains supply, no extra cabling, no new appliance.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge

          Re: real savings?

          @AC - certainly this will work for some appliances, BUT...

          1) Many appliances do not take kindly to just having the mains power switched off

          2) all smart switches will be basically identical which means that there needs to be some programming / setup on the smart meter to tell it what appliance is connected to what switch. This step HAS to be done locally. It will be OK for technically minded people such as this sites' commentards* , less so for the general population

          *affectionately, of course, dear fellows

      2. Roland6 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: real savings?

        >Never mind cost of meter, what about cost of changing every single household appliance in every single home in Britain?

        So negative - just thing what it would do to the economy! all those jobs, all that spending, all that tax revenue ...

      3. PatientOne

        Re: real savings?

        @James Micallef

        The issue is not about the individual appliance, but the ability to remotely cut power to your house.

        There is a worry that hackers or terrorists could do this, but there is another concern: Smart meters can be used to ration power, and they can be used as part of a quota system.

        If we are looking at an energy shortage due to lack of power plants, then it may well come to rationing or quota disconnects, and smart meters support both. Smart meters are an easy, short term fix. What they don't do is sort out the root cause.

    3. Paul Shirley

      Re: real savings?

      In one of my short excursions into 'normal work', the entire company could tell when the CEO was visiting from the US - the thermostat jumped up to US levels and everyone else started sweating in the heat wave.

      Combined with the low use of AC any saving from thermostat manipulation is unlikely to be very effective here in the UK compared to the US. Wonder how much else of the 'savings' are artificially inflated by measuring in the US?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: real savings?

        Paul Shirley has good points, but don't forget that the climate is FAR more extreme in many parts of the USA - as in "lethal without heating or air conditioning". I've been in New Orleans when the temperature was 100 Fahrenheit and the humidity was over 95%. Believe me, entering a building - any building - and gulping down the cool breathable air felt like a beached whale getting back in the water.

        This is not to deny that many American corporations (and households) abuse the privilege of heating and air conditioning by grossly overusing them when they don't need to.

  10. NinjasFTW
    Devil

    traffic shaping for leccy companies?

    I can understand the example of washing machines being switched off to deal with a sudden spike etc. I'm trying to understand why companies that make money by selling you energy would be interested in you using less of it. Maybe i'm being cynical but the only reason that I can think of would be to allow them to maintain (not upgrade/expand) smaller networks and utilize them at 99% similar to the way ISPs do traffic shaping etc.

    I guess seeing as the power companies could then sack a whole bunch of meter readers our power bills will go down to reflect the lower operating costs? On a freezing day in hell maybe!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

      I don't think they'll want to turn your machines off to save a bit of demand. Although it would be a useful emergency measure to be able to power down less important devices. I think the idea would be that you set your machine up to wash, and then the smart meter will activate it when there's the juice ready. If everyone in the country did this, then most washing machines and dishwashers could be run at night, or in the late afternoon / early evening when demand is lower.

      If electric cars ever take off, they'd probably be on a cheaper night time tariff, as that's when base load generation is higher than use. But if you had millions of them, they'd all get switched on when everyone goes to bed, around 11pm say. Which would suddenly be a massive spike in demand if 5 million cars go on charge! But if the quick-charge infrastructure was in place, and they only needed a couple of hours, you could have them switched on in groups, at 2 hour intervals.

      You could then have less fluctuations in demand, meaning fewer power stations would be required. That's also the perfect load for nuclear - which are currently only good for base load. And also means having to have fewer gas stations on spinning reserve, which raises costs and maintenance, while lowering efficiency.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

        I already do run my washing machine & dishwasher at night, half the price leccy for me...

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

          I do water demand calculations for work, and I suspect it's a similar problem to leccy demand. As an example, maybe 70-80% of people get up and go to bed at roughly similar times. The average domestic user gets through 150 litres of water a day. My rule of thumb is that they'll use 50% of that in the space of about half an hour in the morning. That's showering, using the loo, having a cuppa, breakfast, cleaning teeth, maybe running the washing machine or dishwasher on the way out to work. That has massive implications for infrastructure, because you have to be able to cope with half your day's demand in a period of 1-2 hours in the morning, just in case everyone in a block of flats happens to have 9-5 jobs. This means that the kit you need to provide water is about 4 times the physical size and cost as if everyone used their water roughly equally over a 24 hour period.

          If everyone started running their washing machines and dishwashers at night, that would mean turning them on at bedtime. Which is around 11pm. So you'd have a massive power spike then, and still little use for your base load at 4am. So the idea of smart meters would be that you'd all put your machines on 'ready to go', but the meter would actually cue them up in staggered groups. Thus you'd not need to cope with the power spike at beddie-byes.

          With water, you can stick a load in a tank, so even though the plant in a building has to be over-sized to cope with demand spikes, the water mains don't - although sewers do. For leccy it's the other way round. The mains have to cope with large daily demand fluctuations, and there are few ways to store power at that scale. As far as I know, the only way we currently have is those hydro storage sites. Although gas turbines are very responsive.

          There are lots of problems with smart metering/control. The tech already exists to do it easily, but it's not been integrated. Who trusts their leccy providers? If you were doing it for hot water, you'd need the gas and leccy people to co-ordinate. Smart meter and white goods manufacturers would need to agree on standards. Users would have to change their behaviour. Also many UK houses/flats are quite small, and washing machines are noisy. It might annoy people if they started going into spin cycles at 4am. It's a long old list.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

          I run them during the day when my solar panels are producing.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

          "I already do run my washing machine & dishwasher at night, half the price leccy for me..."

          But bizarrely the day time rate for Economy 7 tariffs is higher than normal tariffs. That increases the incentive to time shift your loads, but in some cases people sign up for E7 and don't move enough load to justify the higher day time costs. If you've got storage heaters, an electric immersion heater, and timers on washer, dishwasher and tumble dryer then you're laughing, but I'm not sure that applies to all E7 customers.

          Also, something that the proponents of more demand shifting fail to realise is that the cost advantage only exists because of the excess supply overnight. If you shift enough demand off peak then the half hourly rate spreads shrink. In the unlikely event that electric cars took off, potentially you'd flatten the demand curve to the point that there's be stuff all price difference overnight. And in that case who's going to stick things on a timer? Overnight car charging would stay overnight for practical reasons, but the users might find that the cheap overnight electricity vanishes, and then with DfT's wet dream schemes for road pricing they're paying as much as they used for a generally shittier experience.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

            Ledswinger,

            That's the whole point of smart meters. There are lots of demands that are instant, but there are plenty of other predictable loads that aren't time critical. If I put my dishwasher on last thing as I go to bed, there's no problem with it running at midnight, 5am or any time in between. All you need to know is how long the process will run for, and how many of them are going round the country. At which point the smart meter idea comes in. Theoretically National Grid could run a central system to calculate all this, and load the evening's demand nice and easily.

            In my opinion, there are too many things to go wrong. It it's not easy, customers won't use it. If it gets it wrong, they won't either. I think there'll be too many variables, and it would need some pretty good load-balancing central servers. What happens if they keep falling over? People will stop using it if they keep waking up to dirty breakfast bowls and un-run washing/drying. Or something goes wrong and everything runs at once, won't turn off, and takes down the grid?

      2. arrbee

        Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

        Its a bloody clever system that can run the washing machine, empty the clothes out, put the next lot in, change the wash programme, run it again, empty it again.

        1. JeffUK
          Trollface

          Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

          I have a labour saving device in my house that does that.

          She doesn't really like being called a labour saving device.

    2. Red Bren
      Flame

      Why would an energy company want you to use less?

      I can think of two scenarios:

      1) Your supplier got their long term forecast wrong and haven't bought enough energy on the futures market to meet current demand. If the spot price for energy is too high, your supplier may decide to protect their margins by cutting customers' consumption rather than supplying them expensive energy.

      2) Your supplier got their sums right and have enough energy to meet demand however the spot price for energy is higher than than their retail unit price, so your supplier may decide to boost their margins by cutting customers' consumption and selling the excess energy on the open market.

      Neither of these scenarios involve a shortage of energy, just a cynical playing of the market.

    3. JohnMurray

      Re: traffic shaping for leccy companies?

      As said before: they are far more likely to be used for multiple pricing bands.

      So high demand times will also be high price times.

  11. Gideon 1
    Boffin

    Smart meters monitor voltage? Why?

    You don't need smart meters to reduce demand peaks. Smart appliances monitor the mains FREQUENCY as it drops when the generators are overloaded. Voltage is automatically adjusted by the substation changing transformer winding tap.

  12. BigNose
    FAIL

    Reality

    Exactly how are they going to swsitch off my washing machine?

    In order to do that, THEY will need to fit smart sockets in every part of the home, because the best they can do is switch off a circuit breaker's worth of ring mains, or the whole friggin house, both of which are highly desirable to no-one.

    I'm sure the price hike needed to offset the cost of implementing scheme of fitting these will be offset by the loss of a few thousand jobs, but who wins - I don't.

    1. Turtle

      @BigNose Re: Reality

      "In order to do that, THEY will need to fit smart sockets in every part of the home, because the best they can do is switch off a circuit breaker's worth of ring mains, or the whole friggin house, both of which are highly desirable to no-one."

      That should read "highly desirable to no-one except the people who want to save the earth by reducing your consumption of just about everything except air (and they're not too sure that they want you breathing, either.)

      Well how much are you going to consume in a dark house with no electricity?.

    2. Haku

      Re: Reality

      "Exactly how are they going to swsitch off my washing machine?

      In order to do that, THEY will need to fit smart sockets in every part of the home"

      Three little words for you to investigate: power line communication.

      It would facilitate the ability for a power company to turn off appliances without needing to rewire the entire house or install special sockets. In fact the meter in my house was upgraded and they gave me this little monitoring box which uses power line communication to allow the monitoring of power consumption ANYWHERE in the house where there's an ordinary mains socket.

      1. James Pickett

        Re: Reality

        "the monitoring of power consumption ANYWHERE in the house where there's an ordinary mains socket"

        Monitoring is not the same as controlling. For that you need a switch.

        Also, power line communication is dirty and interferes with other sorts of communication. Scale it up to every household and it may even interfere with itself!

    3. Chris 3

      Re: Reality

      > THEY will need to fit smart sockets in every part of the home,

      ... unless they just provide adaptors that you place into the socket used by the washing machine/fridge.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: washing machines

      No, there is an override for exactly that sort of reason.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: washing machines

        Then, how long before everyone just puts overrides on everything and we're back to square one with lots of expensive sockets being "overridden".

        And as another poster points out - they don't install sockets in your house. So your consumer unit will have to change to allow remote control and/or they will cut off all your electricity. Even if they cut off a lot of consumer unit circuits individually, that's still means having to have a "do not shut this off" socket and other sockets. So customers will just bypass things.

        It's not practical without forcibly rewiring everyone's house, everyone's consumer unit, and fitting a smart meter. Unless, of course, you just don't care and turn people off when they use "too much" of the thing you're selling them.

        I reckon you'll see a huge surge in generator and transfer switch sales before you'll see controllable smart meters do ANYTHING other than look at the frequency/voltage across the whole house.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: washing machines

          @Lee - If you're the sort of person who is going to hit the override button every time that something is switched off you'd:

          a) Be at home all day

          b) Not be the sort of person who these tariffs are targeted at.

  14. CABVolunteer
    FAIL

    Switching off the washing machine?

    How would switching off a washing machine save electricity? If I switch off my washing machine at the wall socket, when power is restored I have to start the washing cycle from scratch - that *wastes* electricity!

    Anyway, what sort of smartmeter can suspend a washing machine's operation without cutting off everything? Surely this can only work if we all have smart devices which can communicate with the smart meter. What's the capital investment required to replace all the high-consumption, but interruptible, devices?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Switching off the washing machine?

      I've not heard washing machines as an option, but I have heard fridges,air con, immersion heaters etc. all of which wouldn't cause a problem to be off for five mins.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Switching off the washing machine?

      Also it's not a case of replacing everything, at least initially you'll put a plug inline which can communicate with the meter.

    3. Paul Shirley

      Re: Switching off the washing machine?

      "How would switching off a washing machine save electricity?"

      Saving electricity is not the point, saving the fuel used to generate it (supposedly) is. Reducing demand peaks allows less excess capacity to be on standby wasting energy. Standby generators that may be less fuel efficient than base load stations.

      In reality it allows less *expensive* standby capacity to be used and ultimately less to be even built. Energy suppliers are so keen because they can save a lot of money on capital expenses and a bit more on running costs. They still come out ahead even if somehow (despite their best planning) they end up selling less electricity.

  15. Shasta McNasty
    WTF?

    They're not that smart

    If they were really "smart" meters, they'd be looking at the current usage levels and comparing them to the real-time rates offered by various suppliers and negotiating/switching supplier to obtain the cheapest rate at the present time.

    People already have an easy way to monitor their energy consumption - its called a bill.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They're not that smart

      A bill hardly allows for real-time granular monitoring though, does it?

  16. Cameron Colley

    Bare faced bullshit!

    This "DECC's figures reckon that not deploying smart meters in every UK home (by 2019) will cost consumers £6.3bn over 18 years" is, by the admission of the power companies, total and utter bullshit. How these arseholes can keep a straight face peddling this shit is beyond me.

    These lying, thieving, scum have already stated that domestic electricity bills *must* go up and must go up by *a lot* in order to pay for infrastructure and the coming energy shortfall in the UK. What this is about is paying twice as much for half as much electricity.

    Think I'm making this up or exaggerating? Read a few El Reg articles from the past couple of years on Energy supply and demand, rolling brownouts and the need for infrastructure upgrade.

    Edit: Can't find the El Reg articles but this gives the gist http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/news/2012/08/20/power-cuts-in-the-uk-110bn-of-infrastructure-upgrades-needed/

  17. MooseMonkey
    FAIL

    All the savings will be spent on....

    ... benefits for the meter readers who have been made redundant.

    Actually, probably not, as the metering will become so complex, we'll need 24/7 support and double the number of people in vans to come out to reboot them.

    Windows Vista smart meter anyone?

  18. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    When they say "savings for consumers"...

    It will more likely be penalising those who don't fit the utility company's desired profile.

    They hype sounds great but there is no explanation of exactly how any savings will be achieved. I suspect they are to be achieved through social engineering and 'savings' are really 'avoiding being punished' for non-compliance.

    The obvious rationale for smart metering is to give the utilities a means to apply dual peak and off-peak tariffs; so they can charge more for peak use then tell people they can save by switching to off-peak use. Of course most people won't be able to switch much at all and off-peak savings will almost certainly be less than on-peak increases.

    If anyone thinks the utilities are doing this to decrease their profits they probably also believe they own a pet unicorn.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When they say "savings for consumers"...@Jason Bloomberg

      "It will more likely be penalising those who don't fit the utility company's desired profile."

      Do pay attention Jason. The utility companies are mandated by law to install smartmeters. We aren't doing it for our benefit, and we wouldn't be doing it at all if we had a choice. it's your elected MEP's who have come up with this idea.

      Smartmeters are expensive, unproven technology, which costs a lot to install, but saves nothing but the five quid a year on some bloke in hobnail boots coming to read your meter. The consequences of the roll out are completely unknown, but when the same arguments were used over water meters the costs were realised, but the benefits weren't.

      You're right that the savings trumpeted by the numpties of DECC are imaginary, from the same school of economics that wrote the business case for HS2, but they're not the product of the electricity industry, just a work of fiction from the civil service.

  19. Terry 6 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Off peak leccy

    With a simple day/night tariff meter it is supposedly already possible to let many tasks run at night on a timer ( washing machine, dish washer etc.) at a cheaper rate.

    However the energy companies actually fix the ratio of day and night charges to make this uneconomical unless you are using a vast amount of night time power. If you opt to use a night tariff the day cost is made much higher than the standard charge and the night tariff is not cheap enough to offset this. (These two items are the biggest part of our electricity use).

    In other words, they actually discourage off-peak use.

    So I fail to see how these smart meters are going to make things better for us. If they really wanted to make energy use more efficient they'd be doing their best to encourage night use, not the opposite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Off peak leccy

      There are great deals out there.....

      The last Economy 7 tarif I was on was 5p day 5p night... so ever KW at night was 1/3 the price of a daytime tarif... sure you need to be an expert in maths to compare different tariffs, and understand your usage pattern.. but for my high usage, this suited well...

      If your on oil/gas heating & hot water, then maybe it makes less sense... I know when I last had oil, I was using about 7Kw a day, now I am on electric heating, I use about 80-100KW a day..... as it all goes heating the house...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Refugee from Windows
    Thumb Down

    Limited supply?

    I could only see an advantage if they would offer me a much reduced bill for limiting my maximum load, but I doubt if this would ever happen. Commercial tariffs have been based on maximum demand but maybe they move towards doing this with domestic customers. Do I really need an 80A supply? Surely if I were to only have one limited at 40A they need less copper (or aluminium) in the ground, fewer power stations, smaller distribution transformers etc. However, unless they're going to downgrade the local supply, which isn't going to happen in the near future, the infrastructure locally is already in place.

    I have known farm cottages with a mere 30A supply, and that really does mess things up if you put the kettle on at the same time the washing machine decides to heat up the water.

    I think the phrase "over my dead body" comes to mind.

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Flame

    Security anyone?

    The last I heard getting hold of smart meters for penetration testing has gotten a lot harder as the mfgs are worried the testers might find something. They have already on at least one ocasion

    Mfg don't really seem to think your data is not for just anyone with a radio receiver and the necessary software to read.

    And they want to make it 2 way giving suppliers control of your power.

    Do you thing you're being conned? You are. But don't tell me. Write to your MP and tell them it's BS.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Other responses are hugely supportive of the idea, pointing out that DECC's figures reckon that not deploying smart meters in every UK home (by 2019) will cost consumers £6.3bn over 18 years*, with utilities being forced to spend an additional £9.07bn over the same period. "

    * As measured in Monopoly money.

  23. Tim Parker

    "Rather, Ofcom's job is to provide enough radio spectrum for the government of the day to do as it wishes. "

    Was that an attempt at humour, trolling or pig ignorance ? Difficult to tell... you don't like the Met Office much either, do you ?

  24. Purlieu

    What could possibly go wrong

    Burglar 1: I'm monitoring the whole street, number 11 power just went right down.

    Burglar 2: Ok I'll pop round the back ........

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What could possibly go wrong

      Yes, because smart meters will have a massive display outside the home available to everyone.

      Please, try to make your paranoia at least credible.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: What could possibly go wrong

        As pointed out a few comments above, the radio devices that are being used are being held back from penetration testers and have exhibited remote-access problems that allow precisely this.

        Maybe not on a big screen, but at least any passing laptop with a radio scanner.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 1103

    "Yes, because smart meters will have a massive display outside the home available to everyone".

    Wireless broadcast is the electronic equivalent of exactly that. Encryption or no encryption, because any encryption will very quickly be cracked (either by software and intelligence, or more likely by human engineering).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @AC 1103

      Even if someone cracks the encryption, which is staggeringly unlikely (as it's an online system so cycling keys can be used), how is someone going to know where the communication has come from? Will it be headed "Number 5, The Willows" or will it just have a serial number? I know which I think is more likely.

      This subject really does bring out the tin foil hatters.

      1. Tim Parker

        Re: @AC 1103

        "This subject really does bring out the tin foil hatters."

        I find your naivety infinitely less irritating than your apparent belief that no-one knows better than you.

  26. batfastad
    Black Helicopters

    Since when

    Since when does any government do anything to save consumers money? There must be something else to this.

  27. James Pickett
    Big Brother

    "an idea overwhelmingly supported by all the companies planning to sell smart meters and RFID kit"

    So who else was canvassed? Oh, I see...

  28. James Pickett

    "Smart metering will disrupt weather forecasts.."

    How will we know?

  29. this
    Alert

    Yes, but..

    ...what about the Met Office radar? Will nobody think of the Met Office radar?

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Yes, but..

      Thank you!

      Half-way down the third page of comments and yours is the first which is actually on-topic! All this debate about the merits/problems with smart meters is interesting but has nothing to do with the point of the article: that the weather radar won't work if the band is used for something else (in this case smart meters, but it could have been anything else).

      Fortunately, there is an alternative to having a weather radar: flip a coin, heads it's going to rain, tails it's going to rain. In Britain this method should give you the right answer most of the time.

      I'll get my raincoat.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So how will all this smart power management co-exist with home powerline computer networks which seem to be increasingly common ? ( proud to say I avoided using 'prevalent' there )

  31. Spanners Silver badge
    Happy

    Not everyone has central heating

    A smart meter would be interesting to me but when all the kettles go on during adverts, I have nothing to turn off.

    If its coronation street, I'm walking the dog anyway.

  32. Tom 13

    While most of the discussion here has focused on the downside of the smart meters

    there is a real problem if they release the spectrum for use. I don't work with the actual doppler radar or other remote sensing equipment, but I do have friends who do. The reason they use that bandwidth for the monitoring is that's where you can see the moisture in the radio spectrum (I think they are looking specifically for the resonance you get between the two H atoms in the water molecule). Since it is a natural resonance, it's not like you can ask the weather service to shift their appliance to a different band.

    Even if you could, satellites and ground stations are expensive to update. Most have long maintenance cycles and are expected to work for a decade or more with minimal change. If you like smart meters, sure go for it. Just not in that band.

  33. plrndl
    FAIL

    Security

    10 minutes after the first "smart" meter is installed, the hacking community will have access.

    Shortly after, criminals will be able to turn off anyone's electricity supply at will.

    There is no possible security system at any price that can protect 20 million devices located in people's homes, for any significant length of time.

    Could be a good market for home generators.

    1. david 12

      Re: Security

      >10 minutes after the first "smart" meter is installed, the hacking community will have access.

      This assumes that the first "smart" meter has not already been installed.

      Which is complete childish ignorance.

      Smart meters are already widely in use. Maybe not on your house, but on my house, my street, my city, my country.

      And I see from posts here, already for some services in your country.

      I can think of lots of good questions you could ask about what technology will be used and how that decision was made. But for the love of God, gaarrgghh.

  34. Barrie Shepherd

    Saving?

    Smart meters or not joe public will not save money as the supply companies will not want to see current revenue decrease. So the cost per kW will just rise to match the reduction in consumption. In other words it's heads they win tails we loose

  35. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Flame

    No, no, no! 'Smart Meter' are not, they are RFI bombs!

    At least with my WiFi router I can set the signal strength just enough and schedule a turn-off overnight, to give my body a rest, but these so-calls "Smarter Meters" will be 24/7 RFI pollution to Weather Radar and people too!

    So expect a lot more doctor and hospital traffic when these are deployed!

    Anyhow the power supply companies can p-off if they think they will get control over my appliances!

    Cut the fake-eco power subsidies, and you'll ironically save a lot of power and money!

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      WTF?

      Re: No, no, no! 'Smart Meter' are not, they are RFI bombs!

      Here, have some tin foil.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: No, no, no! 'Smart Meter' are not, they are RFI bombs!

      Umm, do you faraday cage your residence as well, given the ubiquity of radio transmissions that, by your terms, are RFI pollution as well? Even if you don't employ them, they're still there. Then there are the transmission lines, which are also known to emit EM radiation (natural byproduct of running electricity down a metal wire). Then going down to the internal wiring in your residence, which would be hard to block since they're the source of power for your internal appliances.

      I mean, if we really WERE that sensitive to EMI/RFI, then we'd become a blubbering mess every time the Sun decided to belch our way.

  36. flearider

    with cold winters approching why would i want someone elses finger on my switch ...and we do have the right to opt out ...if not well i'll just have to get an rf jammer ..

  37. Hayden Clark
    Unhappy

    In other coutries they have another name....

    "Load Shedding"

    In other words, just before the fuse goes in the power station, they just shut off "non-essential" power users. Just' like that.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Boffin

      Re: In other coutries they have another name....

      "In other words, just before the fuse goes in the power station, they just shut off "non-essential" power users. Just' like that."

      This also happens in the UK, for industrial users.

  38. Jim O'Reilly
    Pint

    Smart meters sound like a dumb way to waste public money. Saving 5 quid per head per year puts payback in the 40 year range. Better to spend the dough on finding an alternative to even more expensive offshore wind farms.

    Perhaps the idiots in the Department of Health who keep trying to limit alcohol consumption to one unit a week will come up with a fitness plan that involves everyone taking turns on treadmills to generate power!

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Pint

      I do limit my alcohol consumption to one unit a week.

      To be fair, my unit is a keg.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire Risk.

    Fire safety organisations recommend that appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers, and dish washers should not be left to run unattended due to the high risk of electrical fire. So, using smart meters to control these devices when you are asleep or out of the house is not a good idea.

  40. Coofer Cat
    Meh

    Turn stuff off during peak times? Shouldn't that stuff be a bit more efficient then?

    So I'm wondering... if my washing machine is going to turn off randomly, then maybe I'll stick it on a UPS. The UPS can soak up short "off times" and leave my washing unaffected.

    Then I start wondering... how long will it be before Hotpoint start putting UPSes into their products? I mean, they could switch out a bit of concrete for batteries, and then sell it as "the most reliable" or "most grid friendly" or whatever.

    Then I start wondering how long it'll be before I put my whole house on a UPS and then not worry about the smart grid cutting me on and off. I might need a generator for extended outages, I guess. Hmm... how could I get an efficient generator...? Maybe I could use another electricity supplier to provide me with a redundant backup supply?

    This whole plan sounds great, but it'll all be worked around by people because ultimately people want an easy life and don't want their stuff turning on and off without their say-so.

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