How Do Smart Meters Put Privacy at Risk?

Is your Smart Meter putting your privacy at risk?

A traditional meter tells your utility company how much gas and electricity you use between readings. Smart meters tell them how much energy you use, when you use it, what you use it for and even what appliances you use it with. All of this information leaves you at risk for identity theft, surveillance, physical danger and other misuse of your information. Learn what you can do to protect yourself, and what needs to be done to insure our right to privacy.

Smart meters are designed to collect—and transmit—“real time” energy usage, meaning they update your utility constantly, like a Facebook or Twitter page about how much power you use. Someone looking at your usage history read by a traditional meter would only be able to tell how much energy you used between meter readings, not how or when you used it.

Hourly energy usage data collected by smart meters can be used to determine when you’re home or not home, when your family goes on vacation and when you’re kids are home or not home—and with the next generation of smart appliances and products, the brand and model of the television in the home, what food products are in the refrigerator and for low long, and what you had for dinner.

Many electric appliances can be identified with remarkable precision by their load signatures collected by smart meters, including clothes dryers, washing machines, toasters, refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, and stoves/ovens—and researchers are focusing on identifying the signatures of smaller electrical devices such as home computers, laser printers, and incandescent light bulbs.