What are ‘Smart’ Meters?

Around the world utility companies are replacing wired analogue electricity, gas and water meters with new generation ‘Smart’ Meters at a rapid rate.  The programme is already well under way in countries including North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some European countries.  Despite what Big Energy is trying to claim, ‘Smart’ Meters are NOT mandatory and you have the right to refuse them.

What is a ‘$mart’ Meter (and why is my profit-hungry energy company so desperate for me to have one)?

‘Smart’ Meters monitor, measure and communicate customer’s electricity, gas and water usage data to utility providers.  They can operate autonomously or as part of a wireless ‘mesh’ network with neighbouring ‘Smart’ Meters and transmit information to the utility companies using biologically-unfriendly bursts of microwave radiation, 24 hours/day.  Many appliances and consumer goods coming to market today feature tiny RFID chips which are capable of communicating with a ‘Smart’ Meter so that the system can log which appliances, devices and products are used, at what times and for how long.

Energy and utility companies in the UK are beginning to advertise this programme in advance of a full, nationwide roll-out in autumn 2015.  A British Gas advert promoting ‘Smart’ Meters is currently being screened in the UK and is shown below.  It includes a futuristic animation depicting domestic bliss with a comforting voice-over.  The ad draws its audience in using terms such as ‘upgrade’, ‘transform’, ‘revolutionise’, ‘leading the way’, ‘helping our customers’, ‘enjoy the benefits’, and ‘looking after your world’.   No mention is made of ‘higher bills’, ‘chronic radiation’, ‘privacy loss’, ‘home insecurity’, ‘remote disconnects’, ‘hackers’, ‘behavioural modeling & analysis’, ‘profit’ or ‘institutional shareholders’.  And there is no mention of the fact that Ofgem has confirmed that British Gas is misleading customers about ‘Smart’ Meters. http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/ofgem-confirms-british-gas-is-misleading-customers-on-smart-meters/

***Double-Standards Alert***: British Gas has since listed the ‘Smart’ Meter promo video below as “private”, using up a year’s supply of irony in the process.

High-budget marketing campaigns like this are designed to invoke an emotional response and create a desire which previously did not exist.  But the facts about ‘Smart’ Meters are very different from the sales pitch.  You need to be on your guard about this because this is the next Big Energy scam – if you allow one of these ‘Smart’ Meters into your home, you might have some trouble getting rid of it.

How do ‘Smart’ Meters work?

A wireless ‘Smart’ Meter has two radio transmitters which operate on two networks – the Wide Area Network and the Home Area Network.

The Wide Area Network (WAN) This links individual properties to each other and to the base station.  If this is wireless, then it can use mobile phone networks, TETRA or other frequencies typically in the sub-1Gz level. Some frequencies have particularly long wavelengths in order to penetrate through concrete and into cellars. Whilst these technologies have been used for many years (with associated health problems for those living nearby) they have never before been rolled out en-masse directly into homes – placing individuals in extremely close proximity to the radiation source.  (You can read about some of the problems presented by these sources of radiation >here< and also see direct evidence of observable effects below.  Bear in mind that the wireless telecoms industry is one of the most profitable and lobbying-intensive on the planet today.)

The Home Area Network (HAN) This links the meter to the appliances within the property. If wireless, this can use ZigBee, Z-wave or Wi-Fi radiation systems – typically in the ~2.5 Ghz range.   Whilst operating with shorter wavelengths, the wireless Home Area Network (HAN) is also able to penetrate walls, floors and ceilings. For residents in apartment blocks, or for houses built closely together, then a property may be exposed to several of their neighbour’s HAN.  (If you have been led to believe that WiFi is safe, there are many studies suggesting otherwise – and even telecoms industry patents (click here) claiming it causes significant harm to human biology.)

Both systems also receive incoming wireless signals too which typically penetrate the whole house and which enable the utility companies to turn off your supply remotely . While the Home Area Network is designed to work over a distance of metres or yards, the Wide Area Network is designed to work over an area of miles.

Some wireless ‘Smart’ Meter systems use a network of nodes whereby each WAN transmitter can relay information to another, allowing a single nodal access point to communicate with the base station.  This means that the property closest to the base station transmits data for the entire network. However, the system likely to be employed in the UK is that each ‘Smart’ Meter will transmit to the base station rather than using neighbouring nodes.

24 hrs exposure to RF-radiation has been shown to cause similar effects on DNA as 1,600 chest x-rays.  This is an observable similarity between ionising and non-ionising radiation.  The UK’s PHE has not done enough research to account for (or admit to) the mechanistic pathways for exactly ‘how’ this happens – so it is obfuscated and denied.  Image source: European Commission’s 2004 REFLEX Study.

The power employed by the ‘Smart’ Meter system depends upon the system and the location of the wireless ‘Smart’ Meter and mast.  Most wireless ‘Smart’ Meters are at least as powerful as a mobile phone, but sometimes they are much more powerful.  If the meter is in a cellar, under the stairs or deep within the property, then it necessarily operates at higher levels than if the meter is outside and with a clear line of sight to a nearby mast.  In some circumstances, ‘Smart’ Meters can expose the body to between 160 and 800 times as much microwave radiation as a mobile phone (see here).  This can be 600 times the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety standard which in itself is extremely lax.

In the UK, Public ‘Health’ England has stated that no testing of UK ‘Smart’ Meters has been carried out and will only be done, incredibly, “as the technology is rolled out”.  The UK’s standards on wireless radiation were voted “out of date” and “obsolete” five years ago in a European Parliamentary motion – but they are still used today much to the benefit of the industry.  We have some of the most industry-friendly standards of any country and the rising trends in chronic illnesses – such as a 50% increase in brain glioma in the last 10 years – reflect this.

Over 40% of countries have non-ionising radiation standards more rigorous than ICNIRP.  These standards, used in the UK, were voted “out of date” & “obsolete” by the European Parliament in 2008.  They are still used because the UK’s PHE says that the effects are “inconsistent” at non-thermal levels – even though it has been forced to admit that harmful effects have been observed.  This is a flawed public health policy and failure to adhere to the ‘precautionary’ approach – and stands in the face of the World Health Organisation’s classification of RF-radiation as a Class 2b possible carcinogen. Graphic courtesy of Dr. Isaac Jamieson.

The frequency with which signals are sent depends upon whether the meter is for gas, water or electricity, and other factors. Each signal may last for a few seconds or less but this will vary. The gas and water data may be sent between one and several times a week. However, the electricity usage data may be transmitted every few minutes or even seconds at peak usage times. This means that these intense pulses of microwave radiation (900Mhz) can be emitted tens of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of times a day.  A British Gas ‘Smart’ Meter we have measured emitting 43,200 pulses per day. Consider the effect of a strobe light vs a candle on human biology.  These pulses provide no respite for recovery and chronic exposure to them can lead to a variety of tangible effects (headaches, sleep problems, palpitations) as well as more serious issues such as calcium ion damage, nitric oxide depletion, melatonin disruption, endothellial cell dysfunction, oxidative stress, blood-brain-barrier leakage, DNA damage and sperm damage. We have citations available across our website on all of these problems and more.  See here first: http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/resources/resources-scientific-studies-into-the-health-effects-of-emr/

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association (presented by Dr Devra Davis at the National Institute for Environmental Health).

In terms of personal exposure, the closer you are to the meter – the stronger the exposure. This is of particular concern if the meter is adjacent to a bed or a regularly used room where the radiation might pass through the walls/room to reach the mast directly. There is also special concern about this occurring in a nursery or child’s bedroom or that of a frail, elderly or sick person.

If a bank of ‘Smart’ Meters are installed on the outside of an apartment block then the interior of the adjacent room may have very high levels of radiation indeed.

The Home Area Network may operate continuously and most domestic appliances have built-in radio transmitters and receivers which cannot be turned off (and which if removed invalidate the warranty).

Smart Meters: Dangerous

In North America and elsewhere, there have been many instances of ‘Smart’ Meters catching fire or exploding as shown in the images below. In some cases, houses have actually burned down – and yet the utility companies bear no liability for any damage or loss caused.

There have also been many cases of domestic appliances malfunctioning, smoking and catching fire since ‘Smart’ Meters were fitted. There are also possibly deadly consequences for interference with pacemakers and other sensitive and essential medical equipment.

Smart meter fires

We’re yet to find a Smart Meter advert which talks about fires caused by Smart Meters.

Smart Meters: Not energy saving

Although the concept of ‘Smart’ Meters is largely being sold to the public on a money saving/environmental platform, in countries where it has already been introduced these savings have not materialised.  In fact, not only is the data breakdown not helpful (just showing usage per day/week/month), but in many cases utility bills have actually risen – we have had reports of bills doubling and trebling after Smart Meters have been installed.

No shareholder-owned, publicly-listed business would try to convince you to put a profit-losing technology in your home. Instead, they would lobby politicians for profit-making technology to be introduced under the cover of Government/EU decree, and then claim it’s for your benefit. That’s just business.

In Canada, a one year study by Toronto Hydro showed that following Smart Meter installation, 80% of people’s bills increased – often by more than 50%.  The technology delivers the means for energy companies to charge more at times of their choosing.  Those behind the multi-billion pound programme (paid for by tax and bill payers) predict savings of just £23 per household per year (and then only if you have two ‘Smart’ Meters fitted).  No savings of any kind are guaranteed, however, and any that are achieved will come through appropriate changes in consumer behaviour – which would be better achieved through education and awareness.

Smart Meters: Not environmentally friendly

More than 5,000 studies now show that radio frequency EMF radiation is harmful to humans, plants and animals. In particular, radio frequencies induce stress reactions and genetic problems in plants, trees, insects, animals and humans. Problems with navigation and migration have been reported in birds and bees, and bee colony collapse disorder has been reported shortly after ‘Smart’ Meter installation. And the death of trees and plants, and fertility problems and birth defects in livestock have also been reported in regions shortly after ‘Smart’ Meter installation (Council of Europe Report May 2011).

“We are not the only species in jeopardy .. Practically all animals and plants may be at stake.”

Dr Olle Johannson, Associate Professor Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Smart Meters: Intrusive

The utility companies openly admit that they will share the information collected with third parties including the government. This means that information about when you are at home or away, what appliances you use, when and for how long can all be made available. This means that there are personal security issues. Even if you trusted the utility companies and the government with this information there have been repeated and highly publicised breaches of security by various parties and the system can be easily hacked for nefarious purposes by those with criminal intent.

In countries where ‘Smart’ Meters have already been introduced, the data gathered has been sold to third parties including the police, corporate marketing departments and insurance companies. This data will be used to better target advertising.

So how about calling those ‘Smart’ Meters ‘Surveillance’ Meters, instead?

People in the UK may or may not already be aware that we are the most watched nation on earth, with more CCTV cameras than any other country in the world.  We already know that all electronic communications are being monitored (emails, web traffic, telephone calls, etc) – and your ‘Smart’ Meter data (which reflects much more detail about your daily comings and goings as well as your energy usage profile) will significantly add to the amount of personal information being harvested about you.  If you feel you “have nothing to hide”, consider whether you may have an obligation to protect the very right to freedom from unlawful intrusion and control which our ancestors fought and died in wars over.  History shows us one thing – that history repeats.

‘Smart’ Meters: Not mandatory

In spite of what the utility companies may lead you believe, the fitting of ‘Smart’ Meters is not mandatory. It is not an offence to refuse a wireless ‘Smart’ Meter for health or privacy reasons.

In the future the ‘Smart’ Meter gives the utility companies the ability to set tariffs for usage at different times of the day (ie: ‘green’ or carbon taxes) so that you may be charged more at peak times for your energy.  It also gives the utility companies the capability of turning off your supply remotely – possibly after exceeding some kind of quota.

What can I do?

  1. Send a Notice of Non-Consent for Smart Meter Installation/Notice of Liability to the Big Energy apparatus – stand-up for your rights
  2. Share our leaflets with friends, relatives and -crucially- neighbours.
  3. Subscribe to our news feed.
  4. Sign up as a member of our site (see homepage) – we send out updates about once a week, we never spam and your personal data is sacred to us – we will NEVER, EVER share it with anyone.
  5. Start your own local awareness campaign – get in touch with us, we’ll help you.  You never know, our mascot might even come and help you give out leaflets on your local high-street with you.
  6. Attend village fetes/local markets, give out some leaflets and talk to people about the ‘Smart’ Meter threat.
  7. Find out what big events are happening in your area and be there with leaflets – this is a great way to reach large numbers of people.
  8. Buy yourself a bumper sticker to put on your car, or make a rear-windscreen or yard sign – see www.RefuseSmartMeter.com for ideas.
  9. Append a “Do Not Install Smart Meter” sign to your current, beloved analogue meter – particularly if you live in flats or where there is a bank of analogue meters.  (Attach a leaflet too!)
  10. Link to our website from your own website, if you have one, or in the comments sections of other websites – e.g. online newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. – this helps to build our search engine rankings and drives new audiences to our site.
  11. Get in touch with your local newspaper – tell them you’re trying to raise awareness about a little known threat to the community, and ask them to write a piece on your activities.
  12. Ring your local radio stations.  People need to hear other people complaining about the lack of awareness about these cancer-causing surveillance devices.  Do your community a favour by ringing the radio station and sounding the alarm!. If you do this, please make a point of mentioning our website/campaign – Stop Smart Meters! and www.StopSmartMeters.org.uk
  13. If you would rather not appear on radio, we are quite happy to – if you can set-up an interview for us with local radio in your area, we will gladly go on instead.  We’ll even go on telly!
  14. “Like” us on Facebook (if you use it) or mention us on Twitter (@SpyMeters).
  15. Ring your local MP, request an appointment with them, and ask them what they know about Smart Meters.  Give them a leaflet and tell them you’ve done Points 1 & 2 (and 3-through-13, if you like).  Ask them to help you with your campaign and make your thoughts known about how much of a threat Smart Meters represent to his or her constituents – they might help you, especially if you help them realise that this issue WILL come back and bite them in due course (health issues, massive bill increases, safety issues, security breaches, possibly fires, and so on).
  16. Pin our leaflets up around your area – notice boards at nurseries (creches and garden centres!), supermarkets, sports clubs, bingo halls, golf clubs, job centres, churches, local community notice boards, etc. all get regular audiences.  Put one up on the notice boards in work – talk to your colleagues about them.  Only YOU can make this happen for us!
  17. Ask your company to consider Opting Out of having Smart Meters – everyone in your office has biology that will be affected by them.  Is the company concerned about rising energy bills?  What does it think about the potential affect Smart Metering will have on business operations and costs?
  18. Organise a screening of one of the interviews or films we have on our website – Take Back Your Power by Josh Del Sol, the Dr Dietrich Klinghardt interview or Resonance – Beings of Frequency by James Russell are three great examples.  This issue is a blind spot for most people, help them to get the information.
  19. Send all your friends an email with a link to our site.  Something like this:

“Dear all.  We got a call a few weeks ago from Belgium Electricity telling us our meter needed upgrading and that we had to have a Smart Meter.  Having never heard of Smart Meters, we decided to look into them, and were pretty shocked by what we found.  Not only is our energy supplier telling us porkies (they are not compulsory at all) there are actually quite a few very serious risks posed by these things.  We’ve told our supplier we don’t want a Smart Meter, you might want to consider doing the same – some helpful information available here www.StopSmartMeters.org.uk.  Cheers, Steve

The keywords are “local action” and reaching out to your own family, friends, colleagues and community with compassion.  And if you have any other ideas, let us know.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.  Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.  We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.   We are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

~ Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda

Thanks to Dr. Alison Adams for help with the copy used in this updated page.

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