Martin Webb: Digital vs. Smart meters
Submitted to The Union
Many people don’t want a Smart Meter due to concerns about radiation exposure from Electro-Magnetic Frequencies (EMF) being generated by the occasional data bursts being sent from the meter throughout the day, and they don’t want a digital meter.
But not all digital meters are Smart Meters.
If you opt out of a SmartMeter, you will still have a digital meter, but it won’t send data out, it will still need a meter reader to come look at it. So not all digital meters are Smart Meters, but all Smart Meters are digital meters. This confuses some people.
I’m not going into detail about health risks from Smart Meters, as that’s not my purpose here, but I will say that when I researched the subject and had a focused radio show on the subject, it turns out the Smart Meter data pulses are so brief and so infrequent (it is not continuously sending out signals, more like one quick pulse once an hour) that the total pulses add up altogether to EMF being exhibited only a total of 45 seconds a day (basically a 2-sec pulse of info once an hour).
The EMF is far, far smaller than what comes out of that smart phone you hold to your head. I’ve seen the measurements and spoken to local skeptical people that have measured exposure levels with a hand held instrument right next to the Smart Meter. Stand next to a Smart Meter when it pulses and you will be exposed. The rest of the hour (until the next pulse occurs) will show minimal EMF emittance. Based on this information, your cell phone is potentially way more dangerous than a SmartMeter. So is your microwave if you stand next to it when on.
However, if your Smart Meter is located on an outside wall that is right on the other side of your bed, yes, you may be getting more exposure that could result in health effects and I would move your bed, especially if your body is sensitive. Everyone has different sensitivity levels to all the toxic parts of modern life, including EMF, so what bothers one person may not bother another. Don’t discount someone’s ill health effects from EMF.
Plus, while there are threshold safety levels set for EMF exposure from individual items in your home (phone, meter, microwave, etc.), there generally is a knowledge gap in what the combined EMF soup of exposure from all those items together can do to a body. We are all guinea pigs here, and these are just my educated opinions, expressed in the hopes of being helpful.
Finally, having a digital meter does not mean you are on what are called Time-of-Use (TOU) rates, where you are charged higher prices during “peak” hours and lower prices during “off-peak” hours. There is a lot of confusion about this, as well.
Switching to TOU rates are still a voluntary choice, and having a digital meter does not at all mean you were suddenly switched to a TOU rate plan.
Martin Webb has worked in the solar industry for nearly 20 years, currently solar sales manager at Byers Solar. He hosts a monthly energy report on KVMR community radio 89.5 FM. This is the fourth story in a series that will continue with more discussion of energy use and how this relates to your energy bill (See this story online for links to parts 1-3). Email questions concerning solar to Webb at Webb@thatsbyers.com, or call him at 530-272-8272.
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