Energy prices are increasing. One study in Nature Energy blames the Russia-Ukraine war. It triggered an energy crisis that continues to burden households the world over.
The Guardian agrees. They quoted a report from the World Economic Forum that expects this problem to persist for at least two years. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many people are looking to lower their electric bills by tampering with the meter.
But how do you slow the meter down? You can experiment with the following techniques:
1). Natural Methods
The experts at Efficiency Vermont recommend a straightforward solution. Reduce the number of active appliances in your home. The fewer appliances you use, the slower the electric meter will run. In other words, you should lower your energy consumption:
- Remove incandescent bulbs and replace them with LEDs.
- Hang clothes on a line or rack instead of using the dryer.
- Install solar panels on the roof.
- Upgrade your home’s insulation to lower the strain on the air conditioning system. You should also keep the doors closed on a cold day and open on a hot day.
- Turn off every light bulb when you leave a room.
- Unplug every appliance you don’t use. Otherwise, the vampire energy will increase your household’s energy consumption.
This is the safest means of slowing a meter down because the method is legal. You don’t have to worry about hefty financial penalties or even potential imprisonment. It is also more sustainable.
You can apply magnets to a mechanical meter, the kind with a revolving disk. Placing a magnet on the meter will slow the disk.
As a result, the dial will either slow down or stop altogether. If that sounds too good to be true, Greatstuff4all has a video that demonstrates this concept:
- Get a wire.
- Get two strong magnets.
- Get two washers. Wrap each end of the wire around a washer.
- Attach each washer to a magnet.
- Bend the wire to make what looks like a headset.
- Place the magnets around the meter. Let the meter wear this device like a headset. The dial will slow down.
This sounds like a lot of work. Why can’t you hold a magnet against the meter? Because this method only works while you’re holding the magnet against the meter. Once you take the magnet away, the meter will resume its original pace.
Do you intend to hold the magnetic against the meter for the rest of your life? What if it falls off? You don’t have to apply the method above. Any technique that keeps the magnet in place will work.
Keep in mind that it takes a strong magnet to stop the revolving disc. Don’t expect the magnets on your fridge to work. More importantly, this technique won’t work on a digital meter. It doesn’t have any spinning components for you to stop.
The same goes for smart meters. If you’re lucky enough to own a mechanical meter, talk to an expert before you proceed. If you use the magnet incorrectly, it may increase the pace of the disk instead of slowing it down.
3). Old Meters
This isn’t an option these days. When you contact an energy provider, they will install the most advanced meter they own. But if you have a choice in the matter, get an older electro-mechanical meter with a rotating disk.
These devices have bearings that eventually wear out, causing the meter to run slowly. If you listen carefully, you will hear a scratching sound. Your utility bill will fall because the meter cannot take accurate readings.
If you already own a slow meter, you can fix it by reaching out to the power company. They will replace it for free. However, if you remain silent, the energy provider cannot penalize you because you did not tamper with the meter to manipulate its readings.
4). SMD Resistor
Find the resistor and replace it with one of a lower value. For instance, you can install a 5ohm resistor in place of a 15ohm resistor. But that means opening the meter. Most laypeople don’t know how to open an electric meter, let alone where to find the resistor.
And even if you have a technical understanding of electric meters, these devices belong to the energy company. You don’t own them. They will penalize you for opening a meter without their permission.
Smart meters are supposed to prevent electricity theft. In fact, some energy providers don’t care if you break the seal and open them. The meter will alert them if you make any illegal modifications. However, smart meters are far from perfect. These devices are susceptible to hacking.
The BBC published a story in 2014 warning users about smart meters in Spain with significant security weaknesses. Researchers found that any skilled individual could use a smart meter’s keys and unique identifiers to falsify the data it sends to the energy provider.
This allows hackers to under-report a user’s energy consumption. The Guardian raised a similar concern in 2016. They blamed outdated protocols and weak designs. Manufacturers made the mistake of using the same credentials for every meter. In other words, hacking one meter gives cyber criminals access to all the meters.
This Tarlogic article explores a smart meter’s weaknesses by detailing some of the techniques you can use to infiltrate these devices, proving once and for all that smart meters are vulnerable.
“Karthik Pattabiraman” from the University of British Columbia has a paper that proposes an automated program capable of improving a smart meter’s security. She created the program by designing a virtual smart meter and launching various attacks at it to identify its vulnerabilities.
In the end, she discovered a means of preventing an attacker from modifying the smart meter’s data.
But you have no reason to believe that your country’s energy provider has implemented such security patches. Don’t assume that your device is immune to hacking.
What Are The Consequences Of Slowing An Electric Meter Down?
Even if you know how to slow down an electric meter, you shouldn’t. The practice is too dangerous. First of all, you can’t slow the meter down without tampering with it. In some cases, that means physically opening the device.
In others, it involves hacking a smart meter. Regardless of what you do, tampering with a meter is illegal. You are stealing from the energy company by using their electricity without paying for it.
Once they find out what you’ve done, they will report you to the authorities, who will either slap you with financial penalties or send you to prison. They may also do both. Torus associates meter tampering with fines of up to £2000 and a five-year prison sentence.
If you escape the prison sentence, the energy company will ask you to pay for repairs. After all, the meter is their property, and you damaged it. They won’t let you get away with your actions. If you live in a rented property, tampering with the meter will breach your tenancy agreement, giving the landlord grounds to evict you.
What if you’re too smart to damage the meter? What if you’ve taken too many precautions to get caught? Meters are electrical conduits. They transmit dangerous amounts of electricity. Messing with them exposes you to potentially fatal shocks and fires.
Many homeowners dismiss the danger electricity poses because they’ve been shocked before. They felt a painful tingle but survived without a scratch. They associate fatal shocks with thousands of volts of electricity, the kind you find in industrial settings.
However, Science ABC has noted that voltage as low as 42V has killed people in the past. And even if you survive the experience, what if you start a fire? Are you willing to lose everything you own?
Don’t expect your insurer to compensate you? They will reject the claim once they realize you started the fire by tampering with the meter.
The safest option is to reduce your energy bill organically by cutting your home’s energy consumption.