“I’m obsessed with my smart meter”
Colletta Smith – Cost of living correspondent
Karen Alexandra says the smart meter “can really prey on you”.
When Karen Alexander moved into her new house she found it had an energy smart meter. She quite liked how it told her much she was spending in real time.
But as energy prices rocketed over the past year she found checking the meter was becoming an obsession.
“I realised it’s the first thing I do in the morning, and when you see how much you’ve already spent it makes your tummy take a lurch,” she told the BBC.
Charities have said they are hearing rising reports of smart meter anxiety.
Age UK and disability rights charity Scope have told the BBC that although smart meters can help with budgeting they can also have a negative impact on people’s mental health.
Common signs of smart meter anxiety include repeatedly checking your smart meter, worrying about what it means for your finances and feeling out of control, said BBC Morning Live’s Dr Ranj.
“Demon on your shoulder”
Karen’s husband isn’t well at the moment, so the couple are in the house a lot, which she thinks is part of the problem.
“When you’re in the house and you’ve not got work to take your mind off it, it can really prey on you. It’s almost like a demon on your shoulder constantly reminding you how much you’ve spent,” she said.
Karen describes herself as having smart meter anxiety, and laughs while explaining that she’s had to turn the display unit to face the wall.
She has limited herself to only checking the meter at the start and end of each day. “I just don’t want that financial worry to be in my face all the time,” she said.
And she’s not alone, one BBC Morning Live viewer, Catherine Lamb, contacted the programme to say that she had shut hers in a drawer, as she “was becoming too obsessed by it and panicking”.
More than half of all households in the UK now have a smart meter. The government has spent billions on their roll out, and for many households they are a useful tool.
The smart device that sends automatic meter readings is within gas and electricity boxes, but they also come with a small in-home display unit.
It shows how much energy we’re using in real-time so it can help identify the appliances and activities that cost the most.
It also shows how much we’ve been charged per day or week, so it can help you keep on top of rising energy bills.
But Age UK and Scope have told the BBC they are encountering people who find the in-home display a source of anxiety.