Are you a landlord? Find out how a smart meter could impact on your investment

Important information for landlords


“Smart” meters (also called “advanced” meters) are NOT compulsory in NZ even though some electricity company staff have made claims to this effect.


As a landlord, unless you pay the electricity bill for the property, you are unlikely to get prior notice that a smart meter is due to be installed at your rental property – even though a smart meter installation has the potential to impact adversely on your investment.


Many New Zealanders are refusing to have smart meters installed because of the problems with health issues, fires and higher bills that have been reported after smart meter installations.


A brief summary of some of the potential problems with smart meters are detailed below:



Reported health issues:

If your tenants became ill…how would this impact on their ability to pay their rent?

Smart meters produce microwave radiation (also called radiofrequency or RF radiation) which has been classified as a “possible carcinogen” (type 2B) by the World health Organisation’s International agency for Research on Cancer. (Please see this link for more information about smart meters and health.)

Many people have reported unpleasant symptoms after moving into a home with a smart meter, or after a smart meter has been installed at their home.

NB: Two examples of how NZers have been adversely affected by smart meters may be read at this link and this link.

The website has received reports of symptoms after smart meters installations which have been sufficiently severe as to require medical attention and medical investigations, including heart function irregularities. The symptoms that have been most commonly reported in NZ to date are sleeping difficulties and headaches.

Potential for higher bills

If your tenants’ electricity bill doubled or even tripled (with no change in their electricity use) how would this impact on their ability to pay the rent?

While a smart meter installation does not always lead to an increase in electricity bills, many people have reported higher electricity bills after a smart meter has been installed.

(If you go to and type “bills” into the search box you will find a few articles about this aspect of smart meters.) Some people have reported doubling or tripling of electricity bills.

NB: There are a few different ways by which smart meters may increase electricity bills.

These include the fact that electronic meters measure electricity differently from the traditional electromechanical (Ferraris) “analogue” meters. (You can read about this here.)

Smart meters can also allow for Time of Use pricing which electricity companies may use to charge more for power at times of the day when it is most needed (like winter afternoons and evenings.) This can result in an increase in bills with no change in electricity use. (Please see this link for details: )

Smart meters can also measure a contaminant on the electricity lines known as “reactive power” or “reactive energy” and although it cannot be used by lights or appliances, a request for information made to the Electricity Authority under the Official Information Act shows that companies are legally allowed to charge for this useless electricity. If useless reactive power is added to bills, bills can increase significantly.



Possible risk of fire and reported electrical problems

If your rental property burned down as a result of a faulty or poorly installed smart meter, do you know if your insurance coverage would be adequate?

There have been problems with fires and reported electrical problems after some smart meter installations in NZ. For more information about this, please see the following links:


A smart meter may make your investment in a heat pump virtually worthless when it is most needed

If you have just spent up to three thousand dollars or so on a heat pump (or plan to purchase one) please read this first….

A smart meter at a property that you own has the potential to make the investment that you have made in a heat pump pretty well worthless to tenants when the heat pump is most needed.

How?  Some smart meters on the NZ market contain what is a called a “ZigBee” chip which is another microwave radiation emitting device in the smart meter. This ZigBee can be used communicate with some appliances in a home.  Some heat pumps have what is called “demand response” functionality which means that they are designed to be able to controlled by other electronic devices such as a smart meter.

In cold weather, a smart meter that contains a ZigBee could be used to take command of a heat pump that has “demand response” functionality and turn it down to its lowest setting. This could be done remotely by the electricity retailer or lines company (or whatever company could interface with the smart meter.)

If your tenants’ heat pump were remotely turned down (by their electricity retailer or lines company) to its lowest setting at a time when the weather were at its coldest, it’s likely that your tenants will simply assume that their heat pump has developed a fault and call you (or the agency that manages their tenancy) to complain.

You can read more about this issue below, including which type of smart meters have ZigBees and how to tell whether a heat pump has “demand response” functionality.

However, there is a very simple way that should ensure that your investment in a heat pump is not wasted  – and that is to refuse for smart meters to be installed at properties that you own.


Many New Zealanders are still unaware of the potential risks of smart meters

Your tenants may be unaware of the potentials risks to their health, finances and safety.  They may therefore agree for a smart meter to be installed, or a smart meter may be installed at the property that they are renting by their electricity retailer or lines company (or other company) without prior notification.

If you would like to raise the topic of smart meters with your tenants to protect their health and safety and your investment, this link sums up many of the common reasons that people are refusing to have smart meters installed.


Please note that recent “Settlement Agreements” between the Electricity Authority and companies in the electricity industry shows that that the Electricity Authority supports companies offering an alternative type of electricity meter to people who refuse smart meters. (This link has more information about these settlement agreements.)

Some electricity meters in NZ do need to be replaced for regulatory reasons.

However, there are a variety of alternatives to smart meters on the NZ market including electromechanical meters (Ferraris) meters (the type where you can see a  horizontal metal disc rotating as power is being used) and electronic meters that have analogue displays.  There is also a new a company (Legacy Metering Group) that specialises in installing alternatives to smart meters for electricity retailers whose customers do not want smart meters.


NB: If you would like to keep up to date with the smart meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at Thank you


NB: If you would like to keep up to date with the smart meter issue in NZ, please sign up to the free email list at Thank you