Your electric meter: A villain or hero?

Before energy became a hot topic, no one cared about the electric meter.  It was the box on the house we all ignored except the guy from the utility who dodged the barking dogs to take a reading from it once in awhile.

It is a sign of our times that this box now inspires enough emotion for people to take to the streets. Protesters gathered outside the California Public Utilities Commission last week claiming that new metering technology not only makes people sick, but also violates their Constitutional rights. http://stopsmartmeters.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/feb-16th-protest-at... Such opposition has been going on in California for months and has spread to other states.

On the other end of the spectrum, new or ‘smart’ meters are hailed as the addiction counselors that will save us from our dependence on foreign energy. Thus, utilities are rapidly replacing our ignored ‘dumb’ meters with the new smart version. North America and Europe will replace 45% their meters with smart ones by 2015, according to Pike Research. http://www.pikeresearch.com/research/smart-meters

So it is not a surprise to see that the Electric Power Research Institute weighed in recently with a study on the safety of smart meters. The study concluded that the radio-frequency (RF) exposure levels from the meters – at least the type examined by EPRI  –are too low to be any danger to human health.  In fact, the study found smart meter emis­sions, even at the maximum point, are about equal to emissions from WiFi routers and radio and television transmission. They are far lower than exposure fields from cell phones or microwave ovens, according to EPRI. www.epri.com

Known as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), the new wireless meter uses digital technology to allow for two way communication between the household and the utility. Used optimally, the smart meter provides price signals from the utility so that consumers can choose when to do laundry, cook dinner or undertake other energy-consuming activities. The idea is to discourage use of the electric grid when it is under strain. This allows us to cut back on the number of peaking power plants we must build. These plants, which use fossil fuels, emit harmful pollutants.

So whichever side you take, whether you think of smart meters as hero or villain, there are health issues to consider. Smart meters increase RF exposure; lack of smart meters over the long term increases emissions from power generation.

No doubt we will hear much more about this issue. Indeed, EPRI sees its study as just the first step in responding to public concern.

But one thing is for certain, the meter is no longer the ignored box on the house. Like much in energy, its significance is rising in US policy, economic and health debate. Energy is front and center in the public psyche. That’s a good thing, since smart boxes will only get us so far in energy planning; smart consumers are the key.

This blog is open source & copyright free with attribution to www.RealEnergyWriters.com. Visit Elisa Wood at www.realenergywriters.com and pick up her free weekly newsletter and podcast.

Views: 52

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Featured Forum Discussions

BPI Anaylist and installers

Started by Larry R Waters in BPI. Last reply by Quinn Korzeniecki yesterday. 1 Reply

What causes a temperature plane in a home

Started by Energy Wise Solutions in HVAC. Last reply by Brad Cook yesterday. 6 Replies

Velocity Pressure Testing

Started by Horace Douglas Hunt, Jr. in General Forum. Last reply by Horace Douglas Hunt, Jr. Apr 15. 2 Replies

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Latest Activity

Chris Woods added a discussion to the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
Thumbnail

Minneapolis Blower Door Fan and Door frame $990 OBO

I have a used Minneapolis blower door fan (fan only, no controls or panel) and the blower door…See More
16 hours ago
Profile IconManuela L Heyn and Paul Nagel joined Home Energy Pros
19 hours ago
Bill Spohn replied to Eric Sperline's discussion Wanted: Energy Auditing Equipment for sale in the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
"If you choose to buy new, give TruTech at call at 1-888-224-3437 option 1"
21 hours ago
Home Energy Magazine's blog post was featured

The Legends of Home Performance

A project long in the making, we're happy to finally reveal some of our Legends of Home Performance…See More
23 hours ago
Quinn Korzeniecki replied to Larry R Waters's discussion BPI Anaylist
"Hi Larry, We're glad you're reaching out to hire some BPI folks! You can also submit…"
yesterday
Larry R Waters posted a discussion

BPI Anaylist

Industry leader in the north bay area California. Looking for experienced professionals and future…See More
yesterday
Larry R Waters joined Diane Chojnowski's group
Thumbnail

Job Board

This group is for posting jobs related to all aspects of the home performance industry including…See More
yesterday
John Nicholas replied to Jim Fowler's discussion TREAT modeling of mid-rise apartments low heating load
"So why is tenant behavior significantly different in this building?"
yesterday

Home Energy Pros

Welcome to Home Energy Pros – the unique digital community by and for those who work in the home energy performance arena.

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (supported by the U.S. Department of Energy) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.  Home Energy Pros is sponsored by the Better Buildings Residential Network. Please honor our Guidelines

© 2017   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service