Bill Jamieson: ‘Smart meter’ is an Orwellian misnomer

“Smart Meters”: if ever there was a fine example of Orwellian misnomer, this is it. As if the many reports of problems with the government’s £11 billion national rollout scheme were not enough, now comes research showing that more than two million smart meters are not working.

Smart meters are designed to tell people how much energy they are consuming
Smart meters are designed to tell people how much energy they are consuming

The programme has been plagued by glitches, and of the nearly 15 million devices installed by the end of last year, only 12.5 million were operational.

The rollout programme, launched in 2016, aimed to install 53 million smart meters into homes by 2020. But Which? Magazine suggests that, even if all the installations are successful, the roll-out rate is too slow to give every home smart meter by that date.

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Problems have arisen when homeowners have sought to switch energy suppliers to get a better deal. Others have complained that the meters have never worked, and that there have been problems with connectivity. Others have complained of poor display visibility. When it comes to “energy saving”, the meters themselves only provide a consumption display: it’s up to the home-owner to switch off lights and lower settings on heaters.

In addition, many are suspicious of installing a device in their homes that could ultimately lead to consumption controls and pave the way for other intrusive technology.

Little wonder suppliers have complained of higher costs (initial estimate: £100 to £130 per device) as many customers have been harder to persuade than others. Who would have thought it?

If you want to save on energy bills, here is my contribution to the fight against global warming and planet destruction: don’t leave gadgets on standby – and pull the plug from the socket.