Against the sly power

Against the sly power

Smart meters are controversial: Electric meters are supposed to control the electricity grid and consumption. But citizens fight back. Why?

Smart meters automatically detect energy use, be it electricity, water or gas. Most of the time, however, electricity meters are mentioned. The smart meters show the customers their consumption behavior by day, week, month and year. This should allow customers to better manage their energy needs. For example, high-consumption devices could be operated when electricity is cheaper - for example, at night.

Networked with utilities

But smart meters not only measure but also send signals. They are connected to the energy providers via the communication network. From this the governments expect an intelligent control of network and resources. In addition, the annual reading is omitted. In countries like the US or Sweden, technology has long been standard. In Germany since 2010, the requirement that all new and renovated buildings are equipped with such counters. For this purpose, the electricity suppliers are to offer tariffs with incentives for consumption control. However, the spread in this country does not go beyond pilot projects so far. And in many countries, more and more consumers are calling for the reduction of their installed meters.

More costs than savings

What was basically intended to contribute to the energy transition turned out to be far less effective. An analysis commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy showed that the costs of installing and operating the devices far exceeded the potential savings. Thus, only a few consumers are able to operate consuming devices such as washing machines to the usually nocturnal low-flow times. The Austrian Association for Consumer Information calculated that an average of € 23 per household per year would be saved. This compares with the cost of smartmeters ranging from € 200 to € 300.

Electro-smog and glass consumers

Above all, consumer advocates complain about the loss of privacy. With smart meters, it is possible for electricity providers to draw conclusions about the energy habits of each customer from the energy load curves: when does he get up, when does he take a shower, when does he extinguish the light at night? The varying brightness of modern televisions even allows conclusions to be drawn on the TV programs of consumers, the FH Münster found out in a 2011 research project. In addition, most smart meters transmit their data via mobile phone to the energy companies. Against surveillance and electrosmog US citizens have already initiated waves of action. And in this country? At present, the Federal Government is refraining from further promoting the expansion of the smartmeter system.

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