The plan to force everyone in the UK to have a smart meter installed in their home (and pay for it through higher utility bills) has been shelved. The meters will still be on offer, but it will be entirely up to you whether you opt to take one or not.
So why the sudden u-turn?
The planThe government had initially planned to demand that every homeowner had a smart meter installed by 2019. The aim was to put an end to estimated utility bills and allow people to more closely monitor their energy use, and budget more effectively for it. It was part of the government's long-term plan to get us to use less energy in general.
So what changed?There was some opposition from the start. The fact that the whole thing would cost a massive £12 billion wasn't universally appealing, and there was a bit of a backlash about the extra costs that would be added to our bills to pay for it.
However, this wasn't the deciding factor.
There were two major complaints: the first was about privacy. The smart meters collect data on energy usage every half hour. They therefore have information on when you are up and about, when you are at home or on holiday, and when your peak usage times are. Privacy campaigners argued that this information would be freely available and could infringe privacy.
HealthHowever, the biggest objection has been for health reasons The devices emit electromagnetic radiation - in much the same way that a phone or wireless internet does, and cannot be turned off. They are in use in the US and the outcry there has been building. Some people are sensitive to these fields and complain about symptoms from headaches to fatigue. Others are concerned about the long-term heath effects.
In the US there are large-scale legal suits being brought against those who installed the meters, and in the UK the government has realised it can't afford the cost and difficulty of this sort of thing happening here.
OptionalThe plan, therefore, is to offer them to every home, and to allow people to reject them.
It's up to you then. Do you want accurate bills without the bother of a meter reading? Do you want to keep a closer eye on your energy use? Do you have a mobile phone and wireless internet without any health concerns? Or are you worried enough about the potential risks to say no?
Will you opt for a smart meter? Let us know in the comments.