Since when did anyone need a machine to tell them they’re using electricity? TV on; energy being used. Washing machine on; energy being used. Fairly simple, isn’t it?
Yet these seemingly obvious facts are quoted as the main reason we must all have a digital smart meter fitted in our homes. If a smart meter shows us how much we’re spending on power throughout the day, we’re more likely to switch off TVs at the mains and put washing machines on shorter cycles, so the argument goes.
It’s a lovely thought, but these power-saving tips are nothing new. Money Mail has banged on about them for years and most of us still can’t avoid the bad habits.
If Money Mail’s postbag is any guide, Dan Hyde says homeowners are more likely to be peddled the false line that installing a digital smart meter is a legal requirement
Proof, if it were needed, comes in the Government’s own figures that show families who accept smart meters will save just £11 a year on average.
Are the salesmen offered £50,000-a-year commissions to flog these devices telling us these vital facts? Some hope.
There’s as much chance of them admitting the meters aren’t as ‘smart’ as their bosses want us to believe. The ‘smart’ functions stop working altogether if you switch suppliers – and we’re told we must do this almost annually to avoid getting ripped off.
We’ve also had reports of wildly inaccurate readings. And if you want to turn off power-guzzling lights and devices remotely you’ll need to spend hundreds on a separate device. Let’s not even start on the headaches some readers say they’ve been getting from the wireless signal. Hard to prove, but a very real concern.
Where these meters are extremely clever, though, is in harvesting data. They send minute-by-minute stats to your energy supplier, effectively providing 24-hour surveillance. It’s cloaked in secrecy, but Money Mail understands that tech boffins crunch the data to work out how their customers live and target them with deals.
You’re putting great trust in your supplier to keep this sensitive data safe from third parties, burglars and scammers, but I’d be shocked if £50,000-a-year salesmen mention any of that on your doorstep.
Money Mail found salesmen are being offered commissions of up to £50,000 a year to convince homeowners to install smart energy meters
If Money Mail’s postbag is any guide, homeowners are more likely to be peddled the false line that installing one of these devices is a legal requirement.
Let me be clear: whether your concern is saving the planet or a few pounds, of course it’s right to try to use less energy. But don’t let anyone insist you need a smart meter to do that.
The minute-by-minute data is a bonus, but you’ll be giving up your privacy for flawed technology that’ll tell you mostly what you already knew by instinct. That’s a high price to pay for a bit of common sense.
Insurers have got to stop making up car cover prices on the hoof. As we reveal here, bizarre slivers of information such as your email address and job title are being used to create quotes.
Firms claim this helps get you a fairer price. Cobblers! If Hotmail users tend to be racier drivers than Gmail ones it’s a coincidence.
Even insurers admit ‘speculating’ when asked to explain the quotes pumped out by their computers.
Your premium used to be based on your claims history, years of experience and the type of driving you do. There’s one reason that’s now not good enough — it didn’t make enough profit. Too much power is being given to computer programs not even the designers understand. Where will it end?
Good news, at last, for income-starved savers. This could be the year rates finally start to recover as two major government lending schemes come to an end.
In giving the banks billions of pounds of cheap cash, the government hoped Funding For Lending and Term Funding would deliver a shot in the arm to the economy.
But it’s done more harm than good: on one hand boosting banks’ profits, and on the other shoving a stake into the heart of savers.
Without access to these billions, which will have to be paid back over the next four years, banks will have more incentive to turn to savers for funds to lend to mortgage borrowers and small business.
Don’t hold your breath for sudden leaps in returns – we’ll have to wait until interest rates rise for that. But it’s a start.
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