Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

Smart meters, heat pumps and “demand response functionality”

An earlier post on this website (since corrected) erroneously stated that having a smart meter could mean that householders could have their heat pump turned off remotely by their electricity company.  (In actual fact, some smart meters may be able to turn down heat pumps down to their lowest setting, but they should not be able to turn them off  altogether… please read on for more details and to learn whether you may be affected if you have a heat pump that may be able to be controlled via a smart meter.)

My initial error (in stating that a smart meter with a ZigBee chip* could potentially be used to remotely turn off a heat pump) was kindly pointed out to me by Graeme Purches from Trustpower.  In an email he wrote:

“There are probably less than 20 meters in NZ that are equipped for this [turning off  heat pumps and other devices remotely], and they are installed as part of field trials to test their capabilities.”

He added:

“At the end of the day, the direction the industry is headed is that people will in the future be able to determine at which price point they want their appliances to start and stop. The control will be in the hands of the consumer, unlike controlled hot water, which is a network load issue and can legitimately be controlled in return for lower price because those using the option have hot water storage. You can’t  ‘store’ the heat from a heat pump so the industry would never want to control those.”

I decided to investigate the issue of how smart meters may be used to remotely control heat pumps (without the householder’s consent) in more detail.

My initial (and as it turned out, incorrect) information about heat pumps having mandatory “demand response functionality”  came from the website of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In following up on this issue, I first tried to access the current  standard for heat pumps and found that while there was one in existence, I could not access it unless I either went to the central library in Auckland (not very practical) or paid a couple of  hundred dollars (not feasible either).

I therefore sought the advice of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EECA). 

A helpful staff member wrote an email that explained the following:

1)  That having “demand response functionality” is not currently mandatory in NZ.

2)  That some of the heat pumps on the NZ market do have “demand response functionality”.  This “demand response functionality” cannot be used to turn the heat pump off altogether but it can be used to turn the heat pump down to its lowest setting.

3)  That manufacturers can choose to show that their heat pump has demand response functionality on the label on their heat pump.  You can click on the image to make it larger.  The tick mark which is circled in red indicates that the appliance has “demand response functionality”.

Photo of labelling showing demand response functionality

Presumably heat pumps that have “demand response functionality” will contain a ZigBee and/or some other radiofrequency radiation (RFR) producing device to allow the appliance to communicate with a smart meter.   I have no idea whether appliances which have “demand response functionality” will be producing RFR all the time or intermittently or whether the default setting for the appliance will have the “demand response functionality” switched off.

However, if you do not want extra RFR in your environment and/or you do not want to risk your electricity company being able to control your heat pump via a smart meter in your home,  it would seem prudent to avoid buying items with “demand response functionality” indicated by the label.

Please note that I do not know whether it is mandatory for manufactures that make appliances that have “demand response functionality” to declare this capability on the label.  For this reason it would be prudent to ask the retailer whether any appliance you would like to buy has any “demand response functionality”, regardless of the label.  If you already have a heat pump and it not longer has its label, please see the info at the bottom of this post.

Conclusion

So there you have it.  It does appear that some smart meters in NZ (those than contain ZigBee chips*) may have the capacity to remotely control some heat pumps, although this feature may not yet be active.  It also appears that there are heat pumps on the NZ market which have “demand response functionality” which could allow them to be controlled via a smart meter.

 

*In NZ,  smart meters that contain ZigBee chips include:

WEL Networks Ltd “smart box” (actually a Landis+Gyr smart meter) and the Landis+Gyr smart meters being installed by Network Tasman Ltd  and Counties Power in South Auckland/Franklin.  These contain a “silver spring” brand “network interface card” which includes a  modem and a ZigBee.  The default mode for the ZigBee on the “silver spring” brand “network interface card” has been stated to be inactive, so these ZigBee chips, may not yet be functional.  (Presumably they could be activated remotely by a power or lines company should the company with an active link to the smart meter modem decide to do this.)

It is possible other smart meters contain ZigBee chips; some EDMI smart meters which are very common in NZ have the potential to include a ZigBee chip. 

If  you are in any doubt about whether the smart meter at your home has a ZigBee chip,  your electricity retailer should be able to tell y0u.

 

If your heat pump no longer has its label you can find out about its “demand response functionality” through the following procedure:

 

1)  Go to this link: 

http://www.energyrating.gov.au/for-industry/regulation-information-for-industry/meps/

 2) Scroll down the link above until you come to this text:

Next steps for households and businesses

3) Click on the word “Compare energy ratings”…as above and you will get to this link:

http://reg.energyrating.gov.au/comparator/product_types/

 

4) At the link above you will see a list…pick “Air Conditioners” by clicking on this link Air Conditioners – AS/NZS 3823.2 and you will get through to this link:

http://reg.energyrating.gov.au/comparator/product_types/64/search/

 

At the link above you will see a row of black buttons…one is Download CSV. 

Click on this and you will get an Excel file. Open the file.

The field that indicates whether a heat pump has “demand response functionality” is labelled “BE” at the top of the column. The word “TRUE” in the “BE” column indicates the heat pump has “demand response functionality”.  The word “FALSE” in the “BE” column indicates that a heat pump does not have “demand response functionality” .

 

 

Some ideas to help you write to the Mayor and Councillors of Waikato District Council

URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.  (See this post for details: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/urgent-smart-water-meter-alert-for-waikato-district-council-area/.)

 

If you oppose the introduction of “smart”  water meters to  the area served by Waikato District Council (and/or oppose the introduction of water meters in general, here are some ideas you may like to use when emailing the Mayor and Councillors to express your opposition.

Please share this link and encourage everyone you know to do likewise. Thank you.

 

The email adresses for the Mayor and Councillors are at this link:
http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/Your-Council/Mayor-and-councillors.aspx

 

A suggested format for the letter will be detailed below.

 

REASONS TO OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF WATER METERS (REGARDLESS OF TYPE)

If you oppose the introduction of water meters in general, you may want to express one or more of the following reasons for your opposition:

* Cost to Council:  You may think that the money spent buying and installing water meters could be better spent by the Council in other areas (please give examples, if you know of a local Council service which has not been funded or is under-funded where the money could be better spent.)

*  Cost to Rate Payers:  You may wish to express concern that spending money on water meters will be reflected in your rates bill, in terms of increased charges for water and/or a general increase in rates to cover the capital expenditure involved in installing water meters.  If any rates increase may adversely affect your personal budget and/or viability of your business (if it is one that uses a lot of water, for example, a cafe or other business that provides toilet facilities for the public) you may wish to discuss this.

*  Public health reasons:  You may wish to express opposition to water meters as this increases the cost of living for everyone and low income families may be adversely affected by having to cut back on water use, and consequently being more at risk of developing impetigo, scabies and other communicable skin conditions as a consequence of being  unable to afford to pay for sufficient water to bathe and to wash clothes, towels, bedding etc. as often as necessary.  (If you work in an early childhood centre or school or other provider of education and care to children which may be adversely affected by changes in families’ water use patterns, you may wish to add this.)

*  Impact on home gardening: Installing water meters and making water expensive may reduce people’s ability to enjoy planting flowers to beautify their neighbourhood and also restricts people’s ability to  grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables, potentially reducing their nutrition and impacting adversely on their general health.

*  Impact on education and community facilities:  If you work in an early childhood centre, school or tertiary education provider that is already on a tight budget how will having to pay extra for water impact on the services that you offer? Will it mean cut-backs in terms of what you can offer chidlren and/or students?  or increased fees?  Or both?

* Other reasons:  You may have other reasons for opposing the introduction of water meters, for example that once water meters are instlled it may be easier for future Councils to privatise the water supply:  Please express these in any email you may write.

 

REASONS TO OPPOSE THE INTRODUCTION OF  “SMART” WATER METERS SPECIFICALLY

* Health reasons:

1) “Smart” water meters use radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range to send information about water use and this radiation is considered a “possible carcinogen” by the International Agency on Cancer. (See: http://microwavenews.com/short-takes-archive/iarc-publishes-rf-cancer-review.)

2)  People who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation may suffer from increased symptoms if “smart” water  meters are introduced given that these meters produce RFR.  For more information about how people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and the challenges they face, please see these links:

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/electrohypersensitivity-a-short-film-by-time-magazine-free-to-watch-online/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/retired-ceo-speaks-out-on-electrosensitivity/

http://www.scribd.com/doc/87308119/Guideline-of-the-Austrian-Medical-Association-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-EMF-related-health-problems-and-illnesses-EMF-syndrome

NB:  There is no information on how many people are affected in NZ because NZ does not keep statistics.  However, in Sweden where good statistics are kept, three percent of the adult population is known to be affected by sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, also variously known as EHS, ES or EMS.  As you will see from the links above, life is very difficult for people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation and they certainly do not deserve to be further burdened with extra EMR from “smart” water meters when analogue meters are available, if the Council wants to introduce water meters.

 

* Potential adverse impacts on wildlife: 

The US Department of the Interior has cited substantial research that shows RFR has an adverse effect on wildlife and that current US standards (which, like the comparable National Standard in NZ are designed to protect ONLY against thermal injuries and shocks) provide in inadequate protection for wildlife. (Please see this link for details: http://www.takebackyourpower.net/news/2014/03/27/us-department-of-interior-attacks-fccs-exposure-standards-out-of-date-and-inapplicable/

If the Waikato District Council plans to link up “smart” water meters with WEL Network Ltd’s “smart boxes” there will likely be an increase in the use of 900 MHz frequencies that have been cited by the US Dept of the Interior as harming birds.

 

GENERAL ADVICE FOR WRITING AN EMAIL

1)  Start with your name and address

(If you are not in the Waikato District Council but are writing, for example,  because you are concerned about friends or family in the area, or because you are a health professional with an interest in public health issues or you or your environmental group are concerned about adverse effects on wildlife, etc. please specify, this when you introduce yourself at the beginning of the email.)

 

Suggested format for rest of email:

 

 

Dear Sirs/Madams, [if you are writing the same email to everyone]

I am a resident of [your town] OR I am writing on behalf of [your business/community organisation]

I am writing to ask you to vote against any proposal to introduce water meters and/or smart water meters because

[List your reasons]

[Add any other comments you may want to make;  bearing in mind that short emails are more likely to be read than long emails.]

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

 

Yours sincerely/ Naku noa, na,

 

[Your name]

[Your organisation, if writing on behalf of an organisation]

 

URGENT: Smart water meter alert for Waikato District Council area

September 25, 2014: An update on this issue is at this link:  www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/

 

URGENT: The Waikato District Council is having an extraordinary meeting on August 19 during which they will decide (among other things) whether to accept a resolution relating to “smart” water meters.

 

The wording of the relevant portion of the item on the agenda is “that the Council continue to monitor the progression of smart water metering technology with a view to implement the technol0gy when it becomes cost effective and proven in NZ.”*

 

Given that there has already been a trial of “smart” water meters in Tauranga (see this link:http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-water-meters-in-nz-the-situation-so-far/

and a trial is ongoing in Tairua (see this link:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/tairua-smart-water-meter-update/    ) it may not be long before the Council may consider that the technology is proven for NZ – and the Council may consider it cost effective, given that “smart” water meters can potentially be integrated with the so-called “smart boxes” (actually  Landis+Gyr smart meters) being installed by Waikato  lines company WEL Networks Ltd.

(Please see this link http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-way-to-facilitate-smart-water-metering/ for how “smart” water meters may be integrated with “smart boxes”.

The Council will also be discussing whether to pass a resolution regarding the installation of water meters in Ngaruwahia, Huntly and Raglan.

Water meters of any type are controversial because they usually result in an increase in the amount of money home and businesses end up paying to their Council each year.

Charging for water potentially has public health impacts, especially for low income families who may have to cut back on water use and consequently be more vulnerable health problems associated with poorer hygiene such as impetigo, scabies and other communicable conditions that can be spread via towels, clothing and bedding that are not washed sufficiently regularly.

 

If you would like to do something to help:

 

* Please email the mayor and Councillors stating your opposition to “smart” water meters

You can find their emails here  http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/Your-Council/Mayor-and-councillors.aspx and I will be posting template letters to make this easy to do later; please check back at this site later.

 

*  Please alert all your friends and family in the Waikato region to this issue by sharing this post.

 

Please tell all friends and family in the Waikato region that it is NOT compulsory to have a WEL smart box installed and to refuse its installation.  Without WEL smart box installations to collect the data from “smart” water meters, it may not be economically feasible to install “smart” water meters.  (Please see this link for information on  WEL smart boxes and how they are NOT compulsory:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/shame-on-you-wel-networks-ltd/

Also please see this link on potential health impacts of the WEL Networks Ltd “smart box”:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/is-the-wel-smart-box-a-health-hazard/

(If this link is not working when you click on it, please copy and paste it into your browser. Thank you.)

 

*You can read the full text of the agenda of the meeting at the link below.

 

http://www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/CMSFiles/cc/cc56a109-0520-4526-b8ce-8b844c31a43d.pdf

 

An update on this issue is at this link:  www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/waikato-district-council-vote-on-water-meters-and-smart-water-meters/

Is the WEL “smart box” a health hazard?

If you live in Hamilton or elsewhere in the Waikato you may be offered a “smart box” by WEL.

This so-called “smart box” is actually a Landis+Gyr E350 “smart meter”, which like all the “smart meters” in use in NZ, produces radio frequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range which has been classified as a type 2B possible carcinogen.

A document from WEL’s website purporting to show that the WEL “smart box” is safe because its emissions are lower than the  NZ government standard for radiofrequency radiation has now been de-bunked by electropollution consultant Paul Waddell from www.safespace.net.nz.

The document which reports on testing of the WEL “smart box” uses two techniques commonly used by industry to make “smart meter” emissions seem lower than they actually are.

The first technique used involves averaging of the brief pulses of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) over a longer time period, rather than reporting the strength of each pulse in real time.

The second technique used in the document is to report on the strength of the RFR as a percentage of New Zealand’s National Standard for RFR, rather than using the actual figure for RFR in standard units (such as microwatts per square metre or microwatts per square centimetre, for example.)

NZ’s national standard NZS 2772.1:1999 is designed to protect against thermal injury caused by RFR in the microwave range, not any other possible adverse effects.  Thus, a report that presents data about “smart meter” emissions as  percentage of this standard, without disclosing that the NZS2772.1 : 1999 is  designed to prevent shocks and thermal injury rather than assure protection from other adverse effects, may be interpreted by readers to mean that emission from the “smart meter” do not pose any risk to health.

Paul Waddell has used the information provided by the person who tested the WEL “smart box” and annotated the document with the actual values of the RFR pulses produced by this device.

You will notice that the non time-averaged values for the pulses of RFR produced by the WEL “smart box” are very high; up to 599,950 microwatts per square metre in a worst case scenario, although other values were lower.

To put this into context, the upper limit for exposure to RFR suggested by the scientists who collaborated on the BioInitiative Report (www.bioinititative.org) is 1,000 microwatts per square metre.

The guidelines used by people trained in Building Biology* considers any exposure to RFR over 1,000 microwatts per square meter to be of “extreme concern”. (See http://www.emfacts.com/2008/07/910-building-biology-evaluation-guidelines/)

The document may be downloaded here:

RF fields from a WEL Networks Smart Meter with comments by PW.

NB: Although WEL’s website suggest that there is a government requirement to have a “smart box” there is no law or regulation which forces you to accept a “smart box” if you do not want one.  Other people have successfully refused a WEL “smart box” and you can, too.

Please see this link for more information:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/uncategorized/wel-smart-box-installation-prevented/

 

*Building Biology is a discipline which aims to create homes and other buildings that foster good health, through the use of non-toxic building materials, design that minimises occupants’ exposure to EMF/EMF levels etc.

Survey of people adversely affected by “smart meters”

The results of a survey of people whose health has been adversely affected by “smart meters” are now available in summary form at this link http://www.eiwellspring.org/smartmeter/ACCsurvey.htm or the full report may be downloaded from the link below.

The survey used an online questionnaire and asked all participants the same questions.

The majority of people (59%) were not electrosensitive (ES) prior to the installation of the “smart meter” and 82% reported their health was “good” or “excellent” prior to the installation of the “smart meter”.  People were affected in different ways by the “smart meters”, however, according to the link above, “Reports of insomnia, tinnitus, pressure in the head, difficulty concentrating, headaches and heart arrhythmia were particularly common.”

(Similar symptoms, including headaches, tinnitus, sleeping difficulties and heart palpitations, have been reported  to www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz by New Zealanders who have had a “smart meter” installed at their home.)

In the survey, a nocebo affect could be ruled out for a lot of participants because many of  the survey participants (42%) developed symptoms before they knew that a “smart meter” had been installed.  Moreover 63% of the participants had not been concerned about “smart meters” before they developed the “smart meter”-associated symptoms.

The good news was that when the “smart meter” was improved, 91% experienced an improvement in their health.  However, some had ongoing problems even after the “smart meter” was removed.

Quoting from the link above:
“About 45% of the responders believe that the smart meters caused them to become electrically sensitive.”
A similar association  between the development of electrosensitivity in previously healthy people after a “smart meter” installation was found in a case series collated by Australian physician Dr. Federica Lamech. (See:  http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/american-academy-of-environmental-medicine-calls-for-moratorium-on-smart-meters/.)

 

The potential for “smart meters” to cause people to develop electrosensitivity (ES) (also know as electrohypersensitvity or EHS) is a major concern considering that this people with this condition suffer from painful and debilitating symptoms when exposed to levels of electromagnetic radiation and/or electromagnetic fields (from cell phone towers,  cell phones, computers, Wi-Fi, household wiring etc.) that are  almost impossible to avoid in developed countries.  (For more information on EHS: please see these links: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/what-is-it-like-to-live-with-electrohypersensitivity-ehs-one-womans-story/

http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/electrohypersensitivity-a-short-film-by-time-magazine-free-to-watch-online/

(Health professionals who need information on the assessment and treatment of people with electrosensitivities may find this link helpful: www.scribd.com/doc/87308119/Guideline-of-the-Austrian-Medical-Association-for-the-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-EMF-related-health-problems-and-illnesses-EMF-syndrome)

Quoting from http://www.eiwellspring.org/smartmeter/ACCsurvey.htm

“Effects of new or worsened electrical sensitivities, due to smart meters:

•      19% were forced to leave their job

•      24% needed accommodations at work

•      48% needed accommodations at home

•      64% had limited capacity to work

•      17% moved away from their home

•      37% want to move away, but cannot

•      24% can use a cell phone without symptoms, as opposed to 50% before the smart meter

•      39% can use a computer without symptoms, as opposed to 79% before the smart meter

“Could the health effects have another cause?

“The survey explores other explanations through several questions.  Other possibilities include equipment installed in the home around the time the smart meter was installed, as well as outside sources, such as nearby transmitters.  The answers do not point to such alternative explanations.’

 

The full report may be downloaded here: http://www.mainecoalitiontostopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Exhibit-10-Smart-Meter-Health-Effects-Report-Survey2.pdf

 

Site editor’s note:

If you still have an analogue meter and do not want a “smart meter” please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/how-to-avoid-getting-a-smart-meter/

If you want to get rid of an existing “smart meter”, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/how-to-get-rid-of-a-smart-meter/