Smart meters – are they safe?

Data security is a hot topic, and a concern that won’t be going away anytime soon.

Criminals are actively targeting consumers and businesses alike in their quest for easy pickings,  and with data breaches hitting the headlines on a regular basis, you’d be right to have concerns about how safe your data is online. But how do smart meters measure up in terms of security?

Smart meters are covered by strict UK and EU product safety laws. These ensure that smart meters all have the same high quality and safety standards, regardless of who you buy your energy from.

The smart meter security system is very secure. Security has been at the heart of the whole smart meter rollout programme from the very beginning, and right through the design process.

We know that many customers are worried about security of their data when using a smart meter, so we’re addressing some of the main questions here to help put your mind at ease.

Is smart metering secure?

Yes. Smart meters have their own closed, dedicated communications system that employs technology widely used by, for example, the banking industry. Smart meters have been designed with guidance from top cyber security experts, including the government and GCHQ, to ensure that security best practice has been incorporated at every stage.

Is my personal data secure?

Yes, absolutely. Smart meters do not store any personal data such as name, address and bank details – only information on the amount of energy which a building is using.

Is the installation of smart meters safe?

The UK energy industry has been safely installing and replacing meters for decades. There are no differences about the physical gas and electricity work at customers’ premises to install a smart meter – and the meters themselves have gone through extensive safety testing to gain approval for use. With millions of meters installed around the UK, incident rates are extremely low.

You can find more information about how your data is protected when using a smart meter here:

http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/policy/smart-meters.html

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Bring on the Smart revolution!

Smart meters are coming to revolutionise the energy industry – but what does this mean for your business?

 Gaz_n_Leccy

Who are these two?

That would be Gaz and Leccy. They are mischievous characters created by Smart Energy GB to show the British public that gas and electric consumption is out of control!

Imagine someone gives you £1000 and a shopping list of items your business needs but there are no prices for them, budgeting would be a struggle. You wouldn’t be able to prioritise the things you needed and decide whether you were getting value for money or not.
Then if at the end of the month, you were given an estimated bill which said you’ve spent round about £900 but you may have spent more, maybe less, your accountant would be pulling out their hair.

This will sound familiar to many business owners when it comes to their energy bills, as the majority are unaware of how much energy they are using until the bill actually arrives. It’s always been possible to calculate your energy usage for yourself, but this can be tricky – not to mention time-consuming – and while there are other devices to help show the amount of energy being used, these have not been part of a comprehensive rollout, so it’s been down to individuals to request them.

Thankfully, this is changing, smart meters are coming! A recent survey found that 2/3 of businesses who currently don’t have a smart meter want one, but only 55% know what a smart meter is*. Here we explain what smart meters are and how they’ll help you in running your business.

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are a new generation of electricity and gas meters which sends data to your energy company. It automatically allows accurate meter readings to be sent to your supplier, meaning estimated bills will be a thing of the past and all customers will benefit from accurate bills.Smart meters

Why does this need to happen?

The way we measure and pay for gas and electricity simply hasn’t kept up to speed with the improvements that technology advances have brought to almost every other area of our lives. The UK is a smartphone society, with 91% of adults have their phone within arms’ reach 24/7 so almost all of us are always connected to the wider world≠, but we still write down meter readings with a pen and paper and read them out over the phone to our energy suppliers several times each year!

Smart meters will give all kinds of consumers more visibility over their energy use, and enable a more efficient, greener, smarter energy system. The smart meter rollout is the first step towards a whole new way of running our energy networks.

By 2020 all homes and businesses should have a smart meter installed which means 53 million smart meters will be installed in 30 million premises. This is one of the ways the government and energy industry are working together to tackle climate change and make the UK more energy efficient.

What are the benefits of smart meters?

The biggest benefit is no more estimated bills, making it easier to budget for energy spend in your business as well as plan for the future.
You’ll be able to see how much energy you have used month on month so you can set targets to reduce your energy consumption, resulting in smaller bills. It has been predicted that energy bills can be reduced by 2.8% for electricity and 4.5% for gas◊; and less energy used = less money spent on bills.

Everyone loves a freebie, which is another reason to love smart meters – there is absolutely no cost for a smart meter or its installation. You will go from tech-amateur to tech-savvy in the space of a couple of hours, without spending a penny!

What do smart meters do?

By using wireless systems, smart meters send meter readings straight to your energy company. There will be no need for engineers to make regular visits to collect meter readings∆, An engineer will still have to come occasionally, to check that the smart meter is working safely in your business., and you’ll no longer have to record your own, giving you more time to manage your business.

As the technology develops, energy companies will be able to tell you when the cheapest time to use energy is and you’ll be able to track your daily energy consumption. Smart meters will soon be able to tell you when you are using the most energy, making it easy to spot the scenarios when you could reduce energy consumption to make the most savings.

Are there any health risks associated with smart meters?

The smart meters used in Britain have undergone one of the most rigorous safety testing regimes in the world and exceed every UK and EU safety standard.

The exposure to radio waves from smart meters is well within guideline levels, and is many times lower than the exposure from other everyday items, like microwaves and TVs. As such, Public Health England sees no risk to health from smart meters.

Will my data be secure?

Your name, address and bank details are never stored on the meter, only the energy you use. And even this data is transmitted safely, using a secure wireless network (not the internet).

Smart meters have their own closed, dedicated communications system that employs the same level of encryption that is used in the banking industry, to keep your energy data as secure as possible.

No third parties will be able to access your energy usage data without your consent.

You can read more about the law that protects your data here.

Although smart meters are not guaranteed to help you save money, they can highlight where and when you can reduce energy consumption, leading to cheaper energy bills. It is predicted that smart meters will save £6 billion overall between now and 2030, so make sure you get your share of the savings and become one in 53 million with a new smart meter to help you track, reduce and save your energy!!

For more information about smart meters visit http://www.smartenergygb.org

The majority of UK energy suppliers will have their smart meter roll out plan underway by the end of this year. To find out more information and register your interest, speak to your energy provider today.

npower business customers: Keep your eye on the website for updates on how to start the smart journey to saving you money, coming soon!

Image Credits: Smart Energy GB.

* npower Business VoicePanel, July 2016

≠ November, 2013 http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/11/12/fifty-essential-mobile-marketing-facts/#484ca1ba7b7e
◊ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/87894/ND17Jan_SMIP.pdf
∆ An engineer will still have to come occasionally, to check that the smart meter is working safely in your business.

Thanks to our intern Catriona Stewart for writing this post.

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