Saving Energy with Smart Meters
Electricity use curbed by pricing? Not exactly A Washington, D.C. program intended to determine the effects of smart meters on household electricity use uncovered habits that could have ramifications in the way electric utilities implement pricing plans to consumers.
Bottom line: socioeconomic status does not matter when it comes to saving energy; most customers with access to smart meters reduce overall electricity use when presented with their habits and a financial incentive to save. Most would also rather curb usage or face high premiums a few times a year during extreme peak events than worry about keeping track of daily peak and off-peak usage hours. So-called peak reductions in summer are greater than those in winter and, not surprisingly, most of those peak summer events occurred when daily temperatures rose, according to the results of the study released Thursday in conjunction with the PowerCentsDC smart meter program.
The pilot program was conducted by eMeter Strategic Consulting and the Smart Meter Pilot Program in Washington, D.C. with 900 existing Pepco electricity customers from all eight city wards, including low-income customers. The participants were asked to use smart meters and smart thermostats to manage their household electricity use. The group was offered a choice of three pricing plans for the program which began on July 21, 2008, and ran through October 2009.
When asked to name the methods they used to reduce consumption during peak events, 60 percent of participants said turning off appliances, while 59 percent said they adjusted the air-conditioning. Only 25 percent said they adjusted their heating system, but it should be noted that 54 percent of the participants had a heating system powered by natural gas.
The extensive program went deeper than just trying to see how consumers could be encouraged to use less electricity during peak loads. It evaluated all manner of variables, including whether consumers generally preferred having an opportunity to curb usage and save money, or would rather pay extra for electricity use at peak usage times.
People seemed more willing to curb electricity use, or face paying an extremely hefty surcharge during peak events a few times a year, rather than curbing electricity on a daily basis during specified peak hours, according to the results of the study. To learn more about the ARCTech Pro, click here
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