Smart meters have sparked great amounts of controversy among residents who are concerned about their health and the privacy of their energy usage. Despite much debate, the Recovery Act will work to place smart meters in 40 million homes by the year 2015 in hopes of increasing energy efficiency in the United States.
Many residents living in units with installed smart meters are afraid of potential health risks caused by radio frequencies. The World Health Organization has determined that residents would need to live near an installed smart meter for over a thousand years to gain the same exposure to radio frequencies that one receives from a typical cell phone in just one month. However, many residents living with smart meters continue to complain about insomnia, muscle spasms, and dizziness, which have prompted additional health studies.
Residents are also expressing concerns about the privacy of smart meters, fearing that their personal information might not be protected by smart meter companies. A study by the Ponemon Institute has concluded that residents would feel more secure about their privacy if their smart meter data was “de-identified”, similar to the way in which personal health records are often handled. In order to receive greater support from residents, it will be vital that third party companies to develop changes in their data management systems to combat these privacy concerns.