What are smart meters?

An electricity meter will help you keep track of what power you are using. There are now various models of electricity meters that can be installed at your house. If you are confused as to what type of meter you already have, check with your retailer.

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Analogue Meter

An analogue meter is the traditional meter that requires a meter reader to come to your house to record the amount of electricity you have used since the last time it was read.

Smart Meter

A smart meter records the amount of electricity your household is actually using at half hourly intervals, and sends the data daily to your retailer using similar technology to text messages or a radio network.

If you have more questions about smart meters, download the consumer education PDF below:

 

 What is the benefit of a smart meter?

Your electricity company will only charge you for the power you have used, rather than a monthly estimate based on your historic consumption profile. Also some retailers have online tools that will allow you to track your power consumption as you use it.

If you have more questions, download the consumer education PDF below:

What happens to my smart meter data?

All electricity participants are bound by the Privacy Act 1993 and will keep your personal information securely. The Privacy Act applies to all personal information and companies should only use that information for the purpose for which it was collected.

Companies can only match up the smart meter data with the name on the account during their back office processes. Data in your smart meter and data that is travelling to your electricity retailer is encrypted so that any personal information is secure.

Meter owners must ensure that their systems and processes only disclose meter information to the account holder or persons authorised by the account holder.

Electricity retailers are required to outline all the purposes it has for your smart meter data in their privacy policy. This is readily available to you on their website and you can request it by contacting your retailer.

Are smart meters bad for my health?

Smart meters use networks similar to a cellphone, and a smart meter transmits data a lot less frequently than a cellphone.

There are two types of networks that smart meters can use. One is the standard mobile phone network, which means these types of smart meters operate once daily.

The other type of network is a mesh network, which uses smart meters to bounce data from one meter to the other until it reaches a control point. These types of meters still only operate intermittently and at very low frequency.

Just remember:

  1. Your smart meter emits a signal for very short periods of time. 
  2. The frequency it uses to transmit is very low (lower than a mobile phone or a microwave) 
  3. Usually your smart meter is on the outside of your house which won’t expose you to the frequency when it connects as you will normally not be close enough.

If you are looking for more detailed information check out the Ministry of Health’s commissioned report on radio frequencies

Do I have to have a smart meter?

No, retailers aren’t required to install smart meters in your home.

Many retailers do prefer their customers to have smart meters installed as it enables them to provide regular power consumption information and provide accurate billing for their customers.

At the end of the day, you can talk to your retailer about what meter works best for you.