Helen Martin: Smart meters not such a bright idea

Smart meters can't cope with modern lighting technology. Picture: AFP
Smart meters can't cope with modern lighting technology. Picture: AFP
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AROUND six million homes in the UK have had smart meters installed so far, something we’ve all been paying for through fuel bills.

The aim now is for us all to have these misnomer meters. They are not “smart” and their TV promotion ads are misleading.

Instead of saving a household £26 a year (not a fortune) they’re reckoned to only save £11. They thwart customers getting the best deal because they don’t work if the household switches its supplier. These digital little nightmares can fail to give accurate readings if several flats or households occupy one building. They can’t even accurately cope with modern lighting technology or dimmer switches. And of course, the cost of installing them is met by rising bills.

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They are not yet compulsory. But the over-enthusiastic and vulnerable have been daft enough to accept them. Hopefully more and more of us are smart enough to say “no” and the scheme collapses sooner rather than later. In my view it’s a rip-off.

Fringe benefits are harder to find these days

THE Fringe ideal is spending a day or two wandering round, buying souvenirs if you’re a tourist, taking in several shows and pausing occasionally for indulgent snacks. Festival life is no longer that simple.

Booking a show in the Pleasance we were told for security reasons we should travel light with no bag, and arrive at the venue 40 minutes to an hour before the performance.

Getting there will take at least 20 minutes each way, which means giving up three hours to see a one-hour show.

Of course, safety comes first. But it’s an example of how terrorist events across the UK affect all our lives. We just have to accept that. The show must go on.

Hands up if you support testing

SOME parents and teachers are complaining about regular tests in schools from primary one, saying they are cruel and stressful for kids. In the late-Fifties our weekly tests were run-of-the-mill and presented as a normal and enjoyable part of learning. What’s the big deal?