Frequently asked questions

  • What are the benefits of smart meters?
  • Do smart meters need more energy than our old Ferraris disc meters?
  • Can I opt out of smart metering?
  • Do smart meters emit radiation?
  • Could a smart meter tell what I am watching on TV?
  • What are the next steps?

What are the benefits of smart meters?

  • Regular information on how much energy you have consumed and what it cost
  • Transparent and logical electricity bills (no surprises in the form of high residual payments when you get your annual bill)
  • Clear consumption data for e.g. when you switch suppliers or move
  • Compatibility with future home automation systems
  • Quicker enabling of your electricity supply when you move into a new home (no more waiting for the system operator to manually enable the meter; no more hassle in trying to make appointments)

Do smart meters need more energy than our old Ferraris disc meters?

According to a study conducted by Graz University of Technology, if consumer data are submitted in bulks, smart meters consume about five to eight percent less electricity than the devices that are currently used. The meters themselves (leaving communication aside) generally consume less electricity than analog Ferraris disc meters.

But for the most efficient use of the equipment, data should not be submitted one by one. Instead, efficient communication infrastructure needs to be set up so that synergies can be used. In the frequent cases where existing infrastructure (e.g. fibre optic cables) can be used, the additional electricity consumption can barely be detected.

And we must also consider that today’s system, with personally reading five million meters, means consuming a lot of petrol to physically get people to the consumers’ homes. This becomes completely unnecessary with smart meters. If communication infrastructure is rolled out efficiently, the energy consumption of smart metering systems can even be substantially lower than it is at the moment.

Can I opt out of smart metering?

You can inform your network operator that you do not wish to get a smart meter (opt out). It is then up to your operator to handle your case.

The Austrian Minister of Economy has issued an ordinance that obliges system operators to equip at least 95% of consumers with smart meters by the end of 2019. There is no explicit right to refuse installation of smart meters for all customers.

Do smart meters emit radiation?

Digital meters are safe for your health. The radiation they emit is far below the thresholds. As opposed to mobile phones, people do not have wireless smart meters close to their bodies. While a mobile phone is held right next to your head when on the phone or in your pocket when on your way, smart meters are usually installed in a box and not in immediate physical proximity to a person when in operation. The meters are also not read constantly and the necessary wireless connection is only established when data transmission takes place.

The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection considers that the radiation emitted by smart meters is far below the thresholds. As far as is known at the moment, there are no negative effects on equipment such as pace makers. Your health is not jeopardised by the smart meters’ operation.

For further information, please visit the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection: 
http://www.bfs.de/DE/themen/emf/hff/anwendung/smart-meter/smart-meter.html

Could a smart meter tell what I am watching on TV?

To be able to actually identify a TV channel or a show with smart meter data, they would have to be read every second. In Austria, the granularity is 15 minutes. (And even these data may only be read and saved by the system operator if the consumer explicitly agrees to it.) These data do not enable identifying TV channels or shows.
Load meters, which record consumption every 15 minutes, have been used with industrial consumers for years and never caused problems.

What are the next steps?

Meters have always been part of the system operators’ tasks. Most large Austrian system operators have been preparing for smart meter roll-out for some time now and some have even started large-scale pilot projects. 

Many of them also provide comprehensive information for their customers on their websites – take a look at the links below. If your system operator is not listed, you can always contact them at the details given on your bill. A list of all Austrian system operators is also available from our Tariff Calculator (in German).

System operators that offer smart meter information (in German):

Wiener Netze: http://www.wienernetze.at/eportal/ep/channelView.do/pageTypeId/65652/channelId/-45584
Netz Oberösterreich: http://www.netzgmbh.at 
Kärnten Netz: http://www.netzgmbh.at 
Energienetze Steiermark: http://www.e-netze.at/strom/smartmeter/Default.aspx
Vorarlberg Netz: https://www.vorarlbergnetz.at/inhalt/at/150.htm 
Netz Burgenland: http://www.netzburgenland.at/kundenservice/smart-metering/smart-metering.html