Do Smart Meters Really Save Energy?

  1. Introduction
  2. Studies on Smart Meters and Changes in Energy Consumption



While governments and, of course, utilities, like to state that smart meters will cause consumers to save energy, the data doesn’t support it. In those cases where energy savings are initially realized, customers do not sustain them. It’s simple and obvious: To effect any changes in energy consumption, consumers must change their behaviors. It doesn’t take a smart meter to make that happen, and it is clear that smart meters are not making it happen. When I was growing up in the 1970s, we were urged to conserve, and my family did so, with a passion I have never lost. If everyone in this country did that, there would be much less of an energy crisis. But today, lights are left on day and night in buildings, buildings and streets are overlighted day and night, energy-drawing devices are ubiquitous (from the credit card machine at the grocery to the TV in the doctor’s waiting room),  and people think nothing of using devices that consume enormous amounts of energy, such as plasma TVs.

The supposed energy savings of smart meters are far overshadowed by the enormous amounts of energy it takes to run the servers that serve all the computing needs of the smart grid and the smart world.  Consumers are deceived into thinking that their “smart” devices and their use of paperless forms of communication are saving trees and energy. Sometimes they are, but mostly they are not. From a New York Times article (there are many others out there): The “foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness. Most data centers . . . consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner . . . . Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid.

Rather than get people to change their behavior, and rather than change policies, the government and corporations urge people to consume more and more. After all, that’s how they make money. If you want to save energy, unplug it! Leaving devices plugged in draws energy 24/7 and, if the devices are digital, further contributes to the dirty electricity problem. If you want to save energy, don’t use devices that require a lot of power. If you want to save energy, get rid of the televisions infesting our waiting rooms, restaurants, and even gas stations!



Studies on Smart Meters and Changes in Energy Consumption

Only in some pilot studies where customers are monitored as to whether they are looking at their energy usage every day are savings seen, and these small savings vanish once the studies are over.

A University of Essex study, published in the journal Energy Policy, finds that smart meters do not change customer usage behavior. The university’s December 19, 2014 website article asks the question: “Is the Government’s multi-billion-pound smart meter roll-out a waste of energy . . . and money?” Excerpts:  “After closely examining research, the team at Essex have found the meters may only have a limited effect on reducing energy consumption in homes.” “The success of these devices is entirely dependent on the consumers being interested in them and engaging with them,” explained the lead researcher. It may seem obvious, but it seems this ‘human factor’ has been largely overlooked by policymakers. . . . We found that initially households enjoyed the novelty factor of the meters, comparing how much electricity different appliances used, but the interest in the meters wore off after a time.” The researchers also noted that customer behavior won’t change much, regardless of knowledge of energy consumption, and in some cases may actually increase as consumers learn that they aren’t using as much energy as they thought when performing a certain activity. Read more at SkyVision Solutions.

California’s largest utility, PG&E, is required to submit an annual report on the energy and cost savings from the “smart” grid to the California Public Utilities Commission.  In Tables I and II of PG&E’s 2010 Program Year Demand Response and Energy Conservation Annual Report, an energy savings figure rather embarrassing to PG&E and “smart” grid proponents is revealed: No energy savings whatsoever.   By the time of submission of the 2013 annual report, only 36,000 out of 10 million customers had even bothered to download their usage data reports. Only 85,000 customers had enrolled in a program to notify them when their energy usage was likely to move them into a higher rate tier. And this in California, home of “green”!

Other studies include: study by the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford (customers did not sustain initial savings); study of 743 Dutch households with advanced meters found they only used 0.9 per cent less gas and 0.6 per cent less electricity than those with old meters.

The New York Times ran an article on December 5, 2014 entitled, “Power Savings of Smart Meters Prove Slow to Materialize,” which was a nice way of saying that energy savings have not materialized. The article points out that savings will come only by consumers being forced to do their laundry in the middle of the night!



Newsletter, Facebook—Stay Up to Date

Stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter (it comes out every 1 to 4 weeks). We constantly update our website, so check back often. You can find updates and time-sensitive actions to take under our “Alerts and Breaking News” box. We also use Facebook to send out quick news updates. (While we understand the privacy concerns with Facebook, at this point in time it is a useful tool for us, and is a great way to spread the word about smart meters. If you only wish to use Facebook for access to our updates, you can get an account without revealing personal information—it’s all in what you choose to share, and you can give them any name or birthdate you like.)

Our newsletter comes out every 1 to 4 weeks. It will keep you informed and tell you what actions you can take to fight smart meters. Note that most email programs will filter out our newsletter unless you adjust your email settings. Even though you may receive individual emails from us, when we send the newsletter out to a large group, the emails may be placed in a folder other than your inbox. This happened to us! We weren’t even getting our own newsletter.. Please make sure you look for emails from smartmetereducationnetwork@ gmail. com in your Promotions, Spam, Junk, or other folders. Please contact your email provider to learn how to adjust your settings, or search on the internet.


Terms to Know

Advanced meter: smart meter (term used by DTE to hide the fact it is a smart meter).

AMI meter and AMI program: another name for the smart meter and the smart meter program. AMI stands for advanced metering infrastructure.

Blood-brain barrier: EMFs can cause the blood-brain barrier to be breached, allowing toxins to enter the brain. Toxin entry is thought to be partially responsible for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

Dirty electricity: spiky, pulsed electromagnetic field generated by smart meters that rides through building wiring and permeates the building’s rooms. Responsible for many of the health problems seen with smart and digital meters.

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs): consist of an electrical field and a magnetic field. Fields are created by the flow of electrical current through the wire, sunlight, etc.  

Electromagnetic frequency: examples are 60 Hz electrical current of your home, RF of a cell phone. Often used interchangeably with electromagnetic field.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS): sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Symptoms are complex and involve all bodily systems

Hydrogen bonds: Electrostatic bonds that help hold the DNA double helix together. Breakage of hydrogen bonds may cause changes in DNA that can lead to cancer. RF and other EMFs may disrupt the Hydrogen bonds.

Meter upgrade: the installation of an advanced (smart) meter on your home by DTE.

Microwave radiation: the type of radiation emitted by smart meters. Known to cause biological harm.

Non-transmitting meter: another name for the DTE and Consumers opt-out meters.

Opt-out meter: this is a smart meter. The only thing that is different is the radio-transmitter is turned off. It still generates dirty electricity, it still retains the two antennas, and it is only incrementally less harmful to your health. It can still record detailed information about your electrical usage.

Radio-disabled meter: another name for the DTE opt-out meter.

Radio-off meter: another name for the DTE opt-out meter.

Radiofrequency (RF): high-frequency electromagnetic waves in the range of 10 MHz to 300 Ghz. All wireless devices, including smart meters, cell phones, and Wi-Fi emit RF.

Switched mode power supplycontained in all smart meters, it creates dirty electricity.

van der Waals bonds: an extremely weak electromagnetic force that helps hold the DNA double helix together. Breakage of the van der Waals bond may cause changes in DNA that can lead to cancer. RF and other EMFs can disrupt the van der Waals bonds.