Duke Energy touts smart-meter functionality; some remain wary of health risks

Smart meters are becoming more and more common. Duke Energy Progress says they help regulate your bill, especially in the hot summer months.

"As we think about the high bills that we typically see this season, understanding your energy use is a great way to take steps to save energy and save money on your bill," said Duke Energy Progress spokesperson Jeff Brooks.

If you have a smart meter, you can check your usage 24 hours after the fact on the utility's website or app. You can watch trends day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

"Before, you had to wait until your bill came in the mail and by then it was too late to do anything about your usage," Brooks said. "(Air conditioners are) the biggest user of energy in your home, and (they) can account for as much as half of your energy bill."

So far, more than 2 million homes across the state have smart meters. They first started being installed last May.

But an energized group of people are warning others that the tool could taint your health. There are concerns about the radio frequency used.

The I-Team introduced us to a woman who said she started getting sick not long not after the smart meter was installed. She had it removed.

Brooks insisted the technology is safe.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has studied the effects.

If a person get a doctor's note, the smart meter can be swapped out for a digital one.

If you don't have that note, you can opt out of the service.

Others have complained that smart meters have affected the performances of their appliances.

Duke Energy Progress said less than 1 percent of its customers removed the technology and enrolled in manual meter reading. There are fees and the amount differs depending on where you live.

Duke Energy Progress customers (Raleigh, Cary and all points south and east):
  • A $170 initial set-up fee (per account)
  • A $14.75 monthly charge (per account)

Duke Energy Carolinas customers:
  • A $150 initial set-up fee (per account)
  • An $11.75 monthly charge (per account)
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