If you’ve got a smart thermostat, you’re putting all your trust in the technology to get you the best deal on your heating by using it wisely. But boiler and heating specialists Warm.co.uk have warned that this could be a big mistake.
Warm.co.uk have called for tighter regulations on the heating industry when it comes to smart devices, arguing that they’re open to being manipulated by unscrupulous energy companies or even hackers.
It’s a popular conspiracy theory, but one that’s gaining a lot of ground, as customers begin to complain that their smart meters are using more gas and electricity than they think they should be.
Studies have shown that the energy savings smart meters promise can actually decrease over time, in a move some customers are calling a deliberate move to present higher bills.
A spokesperson from Warm.co.uk said: “Smart meters are notoriously insecure, leaving them open to potential hackers off all kinds.
Warm.co.uk has heard from a customer who had their smart meter hacked during a house party. After being paired with a party-goers phone, the heating was controlled without the homeowners permission leading to a huge increase in bills, and head scratching.
“In theory, anyone who hacked into your smart meter could see what you were using, change your bill one way or the other, and change settings if they know what they’re doing.
“And that’s without even thinking about what the energy companies could do with your energy consumption if they wanted to.”
And it doesn’t just work one way round either. Sometimes energy companies themselves can be the victims, with Warm.co.uk citing one particular example in Puerto Rico during 2009.
Smart meters there were hacked en masse by former employees from a power company in what officials called ‘power theft’. Smart meter users were charged an extortionate amount if they wanted to find out how to alter their own energy readings, costing the energy company concerned almost $400m per year.