In-home Display Prompts Consumers to Lower Power Consumption

July 28, 2011 / Russell Legato, Residential Property Analyst

An in-home display that shows consumers their electricity use in near real-time has prompted electricity consumers to lower their energy consumption according to a pilot program conducted by an electric utility firm.

In-home Display Prompts Consumers to Lower Power Consumption

CenterPoint Energy and the Department of Energy recently conducted a pilot program among 300 customers who were asked to evaluate the in-home display. The pilot comes as M2M & Embedded Strategies released a report stating that “organizations upholding a direct relationship with the end-customer will benefit most from [the smart metering] market. Services that offer both to enable and to manage connectivity will be the main winners, rather than those that offer only connectivity.”

Asked if the information displayed on their in-home energy monitor influenced them to take any steps to lower the amount of electricity consumption, 71 percent of respondents were affirmative, while 17 percent said they plan to do so in the next year.

Turning off the lights emerged as the number one step taken by consumers to lower their electricity consumption (83 percent), followed by adjusting the temperature on the thermostat (51 percent), and switching to energy-saving bulb (34 percent), among other findings.

The in-home display communicates wirelessly with smart meters. It runs off batteries and can be moved about the home. The unique identifiers in meter data ensure security.

The device also allows retail electric providers to send price signals.

In-home display can be part of future Home Area Networks, with smart meter as the hub, to allow consumers to remotely monitor and control appliances.

To lower their electricity consumption as a result of the information displayed on their in-home display, 40 percent of consumers plan to purchase Energy Star appliances, 33 percent said they would seal air leaks, while 22 percent plan to install insulation, among others.

The pilot program was partially funded by $200 million from the federal stimulus act, according to CenterPoint Energy.

Overall, 93 percent of consumers said they were satisfied by the pilot program while the rest were “somewhat satisfied.”

Following the pilot, CenterPoint plans to offer consumers energy dashboards in the future.

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