Smart meters provide data to electricity consumers that allows them to make real-time adjustments and save energy. Although nearly one-half of all U.S. electric customers have a smart meter, they may be the most under-utilized technology that can help drive energy saving behavior. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2015, a year when 44% of households had a smart meter, 49% of all survey respondents stated that they did not have a smart meter. Sadly, only 8% reported they knew they could access data, and just 4% said they had viewed the data.
Survey Question: Which of the following is NOT a potential advantage of using a smart meter?
Student Answers: 35% correct, 65% incorrect
- Smart meters provide consumers with precise details of their electricity consumption patterns. 16%
- Smart meters can help consumers identify ways to use energy more efficiently. 16%
- Smart meters can help consumers manage their electrical use remotely. 15%
- Smart meters can help the electrical utility better manage the supply of electricity. 18%
- Smart meters can help consumers save energy without any behavioral actions taking place. 35% [CORRECT]
As seen above, only one-third of the high school seniors from the National Energy Literacy Survey understand that smart meters are fundamentally different from other technologies. Unlike LEDs and low flow shower heads, smart meters alone do not save energy without changing behaviors.
With the energy usage data provided, electricity consumers can better understand their habits and manage electricity consumption. Allowing consumers with smart meters to save on electric bills. Households can determine what times of day are high usage hours and adjust their behaviors in several ways. If they are using electric clothes dryers, dishwashers, or other appliances during peak hours, they can try switching to non-peak hours to save money on their electricity bills.
Smart Meters: How to Manage Electricity Consumption at Home
If they see that certain hours have high energy use, perhaps they can change behaviors to manage electricity consumption. A family could even experiment with tracking the data for a week with normal behavior. The following week, they can make sure to turn off all the lights when nobody is in the room. Allowing family members to see how their electricity consumption decreases. Simply put, the real-time and accurate data from their smart meter makes it easier for consumers to manage electricity use.
Electric companies gain from smart meter data as well. Most importantly, it helps them manage peak demand. By analyzing the data, they too, can spot patterns and understand times of day requiring the highest amount of energy. They can then make sure to produce enough electricity to put into the grid to cover consumer demand. It also helps them work with communities to educate consumers on ways to reduce energy usage through behaviors and technology. Very similar to our Think! Energy programs.
Charles Duhigg, in his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, said, “Once you understand that habits can change you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”
Let’s all “get to work” and change our energy consumption habits. Using data is a great way to get started and smart meters make it easy to access the needed data.
During the 2016-2017 school year, NEF launched an unprecedented initiative call the National Energy Literacy Survey. The energy survey measured high school students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. For more information regarding the National Energy Literacy Survey please reach out to [email protected]