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Tech Consumer Advice

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Utility Companies Smart Meters?


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There seems to be an increase in advertising by utility companies, about using and installing Smart Meters on their services.

The company that we use as a dual fuel supplier, as sent us a notification that they are in the area, and would we want one of the systems installing for free. The information booklet is very patchy, and the contact telephone number appears to be for installation requests only, and not for technical questions.

Apparently the installation to fit the devices takes approximately two hours, and I was wondering what this entails, because our electricity and gas meters are a good distance from each other. One being external and the other being internal.

Are there holes drilled in the property, cables installed, or is it completely wireless etc, which would perhaps the 2 hours to install is a little over the top.

Any information would be gladly received, before we make a final and correct decision.

Would mention that we do have a 'hit and miss' Owl part wireless self purchased monitoring system installed on the electricity system, but this I would imagine is not any where in the same league as the Smart Meter?.

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Terry Brown

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As far as I know, they is simply a connection where you connect the smart meter to a power supply and you have 2 cables which connect to the outside of your electric meter (a 5 minute job).It is not even necessary to turn the power off; you tell the unit what price your electric is and it takes a guesstimate (not necessary correct- only a guide)at your usage.

If like most of us you are on a duel tarrif, so many units at one price and the rest at a lower price, you will never get an accurate reading as it can only take one unit price for all.

The gas is not monitored by this meter, in my opinion it is a waste of time and this 'company' will possibly find other things to fix,or try to persuade you to sighn up to some sort of deal.


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You need to know what they mean by 'smart meter'. I have one for water and all it means is that it is read by radio. However some types of smart meters for electricity and gas can not only can be read by radio but can be controlled in the same way - don't pay the bill and you could be turned off remotely.


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Terry Brown thanks for the response. The guesstimate you suggest seems to be a similar device to the Owl unit that we already use, and its for electricity only, and programmed (wrongly or rightly) by the householder.

The patchy information letter/booklet on the Smart Meter seems to suggest that the supplies will be off for about half an hour, but the work will possibly take two hours to complete. The Smart Meter itself "Using electronic communications technology, they'll talk to us remotely, sending us accurate meter readings and energy usage details. They'll talk to you too, through a smart energy display in your home".

The devices appear to give reading for both electricity and gas, and how you are using both in the household 'in real time'. The small mobile display unit also appear to have storage and display facilities for previous usage of electricity and gas. There will be no more estimated bills or meter readers, as all the information required will be via 'electronic communications technology'.

The other interested point, is the supply company states that the 'smart meter technology' will offer new products, and services tailored to your exact needs (a bit like an email service?).

All seems good to be true, so hoping that someone as one already installed or knows quite a bit about them, before we take the plunge.

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wiz-king thanks for the link, just had a look and it appears that covers the item I am talking about. I will need to come back later for a better look because of the many links inside the article, which is going to take some time to read and digest.

Regarding being remotely cut-off and whether it will effect future contract terms is a thing that may need consideration. At present I have a rolling contract agreement thats price fixed for two years, but I can terminate at any time, and I wouldn't like to be forced to one supplier who as provided the devices?.

If the booklet/letter had better FAQ's instead of the good things about modern technology, then I might have been more happy. But you link might well prove very valuable in coming to a more better and sound opinion. Thank again!.

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They were supposed to come to me about a year ago.

Waited in all day, nobody turned up.

Complained to British Gas, who told me it was another company and nothing to do with them, even though the original letter was on BG headed notepaper.

I've heard nothing since.

However, one of the consumer groups, maybe Watchdog or Which? published a warning about some of these companies some months ago.

Might repay a Google search.

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