Survey results from a 500 participant smart meter In-Home Display pilot programme in Texas show that 71% of customers reported that they have changed their electricity consumption behaviour as a result of having access to their energy use data.
The survey was carried out on the back of the implementation of smart meters and intelligent grid technology partly funded with a $200m Smart Grid Investment Grant from the US Department of Energy.
The survey responses showed that:
83% of respondents reported turning off lights at night or when not in the room,
51% adjusted the temperature on their thermostat,
93% reported they are satisfied with their in-home display, and 97% reported they will continue using it.
To date, CenterPoint Energy has installed nearly 1.5 million smart meters in its 2.2 million meter system, with complete deployment due next year. Consumers who have already received their smart meter can get detailed information on their electric usage by visiting SmartMeterTexas.com. In the future they will have the option of purchasing an in-home display, providing them with up-to-the-minute usage information.
There’s a lot of scepticism about the use of smart meters, particularly if all they provide is information about energy use, as in this case. It’s interesting to see how and when energy is used and the impact minor changes in use can have, but you can’t help wondering whether the novelty will wear off. This survey confirms that this type of real-time data can have an impact, but they need to carry out a follow-up survey in a year or two to see if people are still taking any notice.
Smart meters may have some impact on their own, but my view is that they will only really come into their own when they’re combined with smart grids that offer differential pricing, so you can actively manage energy use to save money. Without that, the best bet to reduce usage is to provide online analysis that shows the customer’s electricity use compared with figures for neighbours. Wanting to do better than others (and save more money than they do) is a powerful incentive.