Top 6 Common Myths About Smart Meter Danger Exposed

There’s a lot of talk about smart meters and how they can help communities use power more efficiently, conserving energy and thus reducing costs. However, some claim that smart meters are hazardous to human health, emitting dangerous high frequency radio waves that can cause illness and disease.

Unfortunately, all of this conflicting information can leave consumers very confused about whether they should embrace smart meters or avoid them at all costs (something that is nearly impossible as many utility companies have already made the switch). Before you start crafting your tinfoil hat, take some time to get the facts. The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) recently released an informative video and fact sheet designed to help consumers refute the most commonly circulated myths about smart meters.

Smart Meter Myths

Image via Shutterstock

The smart, digital meter can transmit energy consumption information back to the utility on a much more frequent schedule than analog meters, which require a meter reader to collect information. Still, stories about being spied on or made sick by the meters has caused some to suspect them, and others to demand their removal from residential areas.

In an attempt to separate the facts from fiction, SGCC set out to refute the six most common myths about smart meters with solid scientific research. Here are a few of the most prevalent:

Myth: Smart meters are less accurate than analog meters.
Truth: Public service commissions require meter manufacturers to supply independently certified testing results to prove that their smart meters generate on-the-mark measurements. Prior to installation, utilities repeatedly perform accuracy tests, often side-by-side with analog meters.

Myth: Smart meters are a health threat because they communicate using wireless signals.
Truth: Radio frequency emitted by smart meters is well below the limits set by Federal Communications Commission and it is below levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, baby monitors, satellite TVs, and microwaves. In fact, you would have to be exposed to the radio frequency from a smart meter for 375 years to get a dose equivalent to that of one year of 15-minutes-per-day cell phone use.

Myth: Smart meters are an invasion of privacy.
Truth: Smart meters measure how much energy you use, based on time of day, not how you use that energy. Unless you install a home energy management system, smart meters cannot tell whether the energy used is from your oven, air conditioner, or hairdryer. Utilities adhere to strict policies, following state laws that regulate the use of personal information for business functions like billing and customer service.

To learn more, check out the video below, or read all six myths about smart meters here [PDF].

 

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

  • Rong

    This bit of journalistic trash is an attempt by industry to deflect some of the well justified concerns being directed at it. Think for yourself, and investigate thoroughly. Read Dr. David Carpenter, Dr. Magda Havas, Dr. Henry Lai.

  • fiesta

    You might want to investigate for yourself. With smart meter they can tell shows you are watching just my the freq. Of the energy and if you use the power line as a router they can track the website you visit but do not believe me look for yourself
    And see the truth

  • greened

    This is not journalism, this is propaganda. The facts are clear from hundreds of reputable scientific research studies. Smart meters are a known health hazard. Pulsed microwave radiation, which smart meters emit, has been verifiably linked to a host of diseases and conditions ranging from cancers to impaired brain functioning and DNA damage. Most of rest of the world knows this and has taken steps to mitigate the problem. The US government, in bed with corporations, continues blindly on with outdated regulations and outdated science that serves the multi-billion dollar telecom industry at the expense of all life forms.

  • http://twitter.com/gsreeprakash g.sreeprakash

    This is all misplaced fears. The latest generation smart meters do not at all give rise to any hazardous radiation. The technology involves collected data at the meter being transmitted over the SMS gateway roughly once in a day most probably during the non-peak traffic period like early in the morning or so. The hazard can at best be the equivalent of the hazard by way of being close to a handset from which an SMS is sent. Nothing more.

    • sethdayal

      Great infomercial!!! The usual junk science.

      The power levels and damage from a power meter emitting as little as a few inches from your sleeping child’s head, is many orders of magnitude greater than background microwave radiation levels. Levels are higher than the power companies own microwave radio maintenance people are allowed to expose themselves.

      Lets put in a way y’all can understand. Background RF is like a paintball gun while the smart meter is like a military sniper rifle. If you get hit 100 times with the paintball gun there is no damage even though the total muzzle energy that hits you after a day of play is far greater than that one deadly shot of the AK-47.

      • bethbot

        Hi Seth. Wondering how you feel about CASnyder’s point that distance from living areas might diminish the risk? In terms “I can understand” I guess would that be like being shot from a paintball gun that’s 100 yards away instead of point blank?

        • sethdayal

          Yup more than a few meters away its no big deal. Problem is you might have a panel of 20 meters with only 2 inches of wall between them and your sleeping head.

          • bethbot

            That makes sense. So would those worried about risk of exposure be better served lobbying the utilities for safer placement? Or perhaps guidelines for safe placement in new construction?

          • sethdayal

            No they should be lobbying for wired meters with dirt cheap 1 Gb/s internet access as an overlay.

          • bethbot

            huh. would that allow for the collection of energy consumption data without a meter reader while avoiding the dangerous RF?

    • MM59

      Check the discovery data in California. PG&E finally admitted that meters transmit on average 9600/day and the maximum was 190,000/day. These meters chat with each other all day long sending network messages, etc. Yes, it reads your meter just 6 times per day, but transmits much more than a meter read.

    • manyquestions

      Here is a 45-second video showing how often this “latest generation” of “smart” meters transmit:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NH2rvHH-kE

      The number of well-educated, professional people who are starting to experience health effects from “smart” meters is growing by the day:

      http://www.conradbiologic.com/articles/SmartMeters.html

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

    The only fear I have is the potential for malicious manipulation (hacking). I’ve read a number of articles indicating that the devices have already been hacked and usage data altered.

    http://krebsonsecurity.com/2012/04/fbi-smart-meter-hacks-likely-to-spread/

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9229384/Researcher_releases_smart_meter_hacking_tool

    http://news.techeye.net/security/big-business-ignores-smart-meter-security-risks-for-short-term-profit

    And many more.

    • bethbot

      Mace, these links are interesting, thanks for sharing. For me, this is a far more troublesome threat. All digital identities (bank account, credit cards) at at risk from hackers, but I wonder what would be the draw for them to attack a smart meter?

      • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

        You know that noisy neighbor that blasts music at all hours? What if his electric bill gradually went up until the power company shut him down for non-payment? Or that boss that’s always on your case… what if he were arrested because his bill was always magically zero?

        Hacking doesn’t have to be for some huge financial gain. It can be for personal benefit as well. People have hacked school computers just to change a grade. I don’t think the ethical implications of incriminating an innocent individual would bother them.

        Just as the toolsets to build computer malware are available for people not otherwise competent to use, I’m sure similar toolsets will become available for those wishing to annoy others via their smart meters.

        • bethbot

          Point taken, however, we continue to use credit cards, shop online, and travel, even though all those activities put our money and identities at risk. We do what we can to block these types of invasions and stay vigilant in monitoring our information. Why should meters be different?

          • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

            With credit cards we are legally protected from misuse. We are legally protected from the consequences of identity theft. You can compare receipts against bills to validate / refute the charges.

            With smart meters, we have no recourse; the device is the evidence against us. We have no independent method of validating or refuting the reported information. It’s our word against the device that is tampered with. There’s no physical broken seal or magnetic sensor as on the electromechanical meters that says the information is not to be trusted.

            Just as with credit cards, we need laws that put the burden on the power company deploying smart meters to provide independent proof of tampering. For example, an inside meter and upstream meter in addition to the smart meter. My water company does this, and periodically validates the internal / upstream readings against the digital readings. Why don’t we have similar protections from the power company?

          • libertyandtyranny

            We do all those actions VOLUNTARILY! The issue is not whether this is safe or not, but why we are being FORCED to have them installed or pay a fine, and this is not being called extortion!

  • derp

    It’s nice to see all of the HERPY-DERPY’s on here talking about how smart meters are the tool of Satan . .

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Soapbox-Jill/100000703502368 Soapbox Jill

      Opponants are talking about scientific studies and medical experts showing the risks and biological damage chronic pulsed microwaves can do. And all you can do is call names and fear-monger about religious something-or-other nonsense. Nice.

  • CASnyder

    While I support Time of Day metering for its encouragement of PV solar power usage & interconnection, I know that what the industry doesn’t tell you about their assertions that the smart meter’s broadcast doesn’t exceed SCC regulations is that the cited regulations don’t go by the peak energy intensity, but by an average of the exposure over time. Since the smart meters only put out their broadcast surge for a few seconds every day, of course the average exposure intensity is less than 15 minutes of cell phone usage each day. But would you rather get exposed to low intensity sunlight radiation for an hour or two a day unshielded, or high intensity x-rays for a second or two unshielded each day? Its is important to also make sure the intensity of the radiation is at a safe level, and the smart meter’s intensity is higher than the other devices in our homes. Fortunately, our meter is on our detached garage, not our house, so we should be protected by the large distance (intensity varies with the square of the distance). But if you’ve a smart meter on the other side of the wall from a child’s bedroom, you may want to either re-arrange how you use the rooms in your house or put some radiation shielding in the wall. Or if you really want to piss off the utility, wrap the tin-foil around the smart meter, not your head.

    • MM59

      Don’t forget that apartments and condo’s have banks of these meters all together. I can’t win the lottery, but I seem to have won the smart meter challenge – 10 meters directly behind my bed! And don’t forget each meter has TWO transmitters – it is that Zigbee transmitter that will the killer, it operates in 2.4 GHz, same as a microwave oven.That is 20 transmitters within 1-3 feet of my head!

    • bethbot

      CASnyder, thanks for the comment. Your illustration of the difference between intensity and exposure is helpful to understanding what the legitimate risk of these meters may be. Perhaps it would be more productive for opposition groups to rally for better placement of these meters (far from bedrooms, etc) than total elimination?

  • Dan

    It’s not an invasion of privacy to have some company know my energy use by the time of day? Of course it is. It’s NONE of their business. I use the product. They have no need to know how or when I use it. I buy food at the store, but the store doesn’t try to monitor my calorie intake by the minute.

    • MM59

      They need to know because after everything is installed they will then ask the Public Service Commission for mandatory Time of Day Rates. You will pay more for peak time usage. That’s their ultimate goal.

  • FunkeU

    I’m going to cover my house in tin foil so Obama isn’t able to tell when I’m showering. I’m a never-nude and if this was ever revealed to the world I’d be extremely embarrassed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Soapbox-Jill/100000703502368 Soapbox Jill

      juvenile

    • Adam James Kenyon

      When I’m in the shower! I’m afraid to wash my hair! I might open my eyes and find someone standing there! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YvAYIJSSZY

  • DocFrank

    Facts? nether facts nor knowledgable information is provided in this propaganda piece. We have the internet, the truth is out there.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLeCTaSG2-U&feature=related

    The truth is we are paying for all of this. They could have had fiber optics across the US for the same price and we could have internet, cable, personal security, and utilities could read the meter simply without radiation. The information the industry doesn’t want you to know is out there. 40,000 brain cancers, well just change the epidemiology of the study and ‘poof’ no more cancer considered.

  • josh416

    Since when did earthtechling promote astroturfing by companies under fire for the damage caused by their products?

    Those who want to learn what experts who are not being paid to lie say about the issue can check out:

    icems.eu
    fullsignalmovie.com
    disconnectbook.com
    emfwise.com/science.php

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=693957489 Darlene Demandel Holmberg

    Have we forgotten that people who live near a power transformer are at much great risk for leukemia?? There is an impact, cumulative and ever-increasing. How many of us turn off our cell phones at night? Some of us really do “hear” the EMF presence! And we are sick from it!

  • vegasgeorge

    This article is poorly researched and smacks of industry fact manipulation. Cell phones and even baby monitors have been shown to emit high levels of dangerous radiation. Smart meters, when tested, emit radiation levels equal to and greater than, in many cases, an iphone which probably the worst. As for the tin foil hats? Guess what, tin foil will block radiation from smart meters, wi-fi and many sources of harmful rays. Maybe not such a bad idea in this Big Brother world.

  • Jason M.

    Wow, set up a dummy website to promote the products that the power companies have to offer. Your agenda is to save the planet by going green, right? I say dummy website because if you navigate the site, you’ll see nothing under “events” nothing under “features.” But hey, you can pay the $245 dollar fee to submit your article under “Green Ways and Words.” I’m tempted to pay the $245 fee just to post an article of the REAL dangers of smart meters.

  • libertyandtyranny

    This piece of trash article sounds like it was written by SCE, PG&E, and their friends at CPUC that supposedly regulates it. Where are all the independent studies, not funded by the STATE, that PROVE smart meters have absolutely NO adverse affects on human health? If there is even any doubt, and this is being forced on consumers unless you pay a huge fine, how is this not extortion and fascism on a massive scale?

    • http://twitter.com/ColonelHawkyns Colonel Hawk

      You are right. This commie propaganda, which is one lie after another, is written by a bunch of the same, go look at the list of creeps at the commie website http://smartgridcc.org/about/members . You think these are big lies? Read some of the stuff on that site that doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Communists want a nanny state. There’s even one company that bout sums it up. “i control”. I sen them a little letter and told them liars go to hell but hell is too good for them. : )

  • henry

    That idiot that is telling this story come and live in my house . Bring the family and some of you can leave in the day time but some must stay. Then after six weeks we will see how good you can tell your story . The only way you will speak the lies is that money to you is more important than living.

    • Derek

      This technology does cause health effects how do I know I’m effected ..What is funny is people try to discredit people that have a hypersensitivity to these things but remember many who discredit are in the industry If it didnt effect me where I get severe headaches body aches swelling off feet and hands I wouldn’t say it ..By me telling people of the health risk and what happens to me I don’t make one thin dime but the people saying we are crazy and this is so miniscule of a technology and downp[laying the risk they are part of an idustry making tons of money hiddeen agenda? I think so …And here in America we all have the right to choose that seems in recent yrs to be taken away ..Its like smokers I fremember growing up they all laughed it does’nt cause any bad health well I choose not to smoke I know this technology is causing me health effects and will to others but hey if yopu think its great baby you do it if you don’t mind Ill stay withj my choice just like i did not to smoke … Funny I read something that said pictures taken from outerspace of all the planets 10 yrs ago and last yr all the planets looked the same from the 10 yr ago picture til last pics only planet Earth looked different it now had a glow around it trhis scientist said was the glow of radiation from all this wireless stuiff we are doing then we wonder why everybody knows somebody with cancer … Once again you choose it fine I live my life my way

  • http://www.facebook.com/LonnieMcVaigh Lonnie R McVaigh

    The biggest Myth about Smart Meters is that they are Beneficial to the Consumer… Why is that not included as a Myth? Hmmm. Maybe a Business Bigot for the Power Who Be wrote these Myths too!!! Come ON, where is your Journalistic Freedom of Press? Don’t you write anything for the Readers and Consumers anymore, just a bunch of Adds to Brainwash “We The People” who you must thnk are just IGNORANT? Credibility is everything and this is nothing more than a slanted RANT!!!

    The real purpose of “SMART METERS” is to put a Cell Tower network in place on every home and use it for Communications and force Compliance with Government Authorities using the shutting off of your Energy Grid access as a enforcement factor if you are a future Rebel in any way… Each Meter acts as a Radio repeater with a network of other Meters that ultimately is monitored at a Cell Tower much like our phones… If your wanted for ANYTHING, they know when your home or can shut off your accessories and regulate your lifestyle…

    The Paterfamilias -

  • anatol

    DO NOT LIEEEEEE

  • Ma

    Electric SmartMeters operate at 902-928 MHz (similar to the old 900 MHz cordless phones) Gas SmartMeter’s are between 450-470 Mhz. They are literally a fraction of the exposure at one foot of distance for recognized standards. Electric Smartmeters are 8 on a scale of 600, Gas meters .00166 on a scale of 300. Obviously there are electronics that malfunction – but these are using very low power and signals that have been used for generations

  • Jenifer Cros

    Read some of the stuff on that site that doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Communists want a nanny state.

    Breville Smart Oven

  • Smartoven

    Bring the family and some of you can leave in the day time but some must stay.

    Breville Smart Oven

  • jim nobody

    I told B.C. Hydro that they could install the ‘smart meter’ if they supplied IN Print…..a statement saying that the installation would NOT endanger, harm or injure any man nor beast………they Declined.

  • darkpatriot

    Well if you believe that, I have a bridge and government health care to sell you.