Smart Meters May Help You Get Hooked on Energy Efficiency

Most homeowners don’t think about energy efficiency several times a day. But if they did, they might be able to make serious strides toward lower bills and emissions by making small, quick adjustments like doing laundry four hours later than usual or turning up the thermostat by two degrees. With the help of disaggregation technologies, this could become the norm -- and the rewards could be significant.

Utility companies are upgrading older energy meters with smart meters that can report energy usage in real time and offer detailed energy consumption data to homeowners. One of the greatest advantages of this upgrade is the ability to disaggregate energy usage appliance-by-appliance, creating opportunities for specific energy-saving recommendations. An increasing number of apps and gadgets are in the works to help homeowners harness this data and change their energy habits.

Making Energy Data Fun

The energy industry could take a lesson from the rise in popularity of fitness wearables, according to a recent article in Home Energy Magazine. Devices like Fitbit are designed to get their users hooked on tracking fitness goals by delivering information and alerts throughout the day. The Fitbit is at work whenever you’re wearing it -- analyzing data, recommending actions and rewarding healthy choices -- and smart devices could do the same for encouraging energy efficiency.

The magazine envisions an app that can send a homeowner a mobile push notification of a spike in air conditioning use, recommending a slight change to the thermostat setting. After the homeowner makes the adjustment, the app can reward the user by communicating the projected cost savings, turning energy efficiency into a sort of game that can be exciting and addicting.

Get Smart

Regardless of whether you adopt the latest energy-saving technologies the way fitness buffs have embraced Fitbit, the emerging apps and devices will help make energy efficiency feel effortless and rewarding. But it all starts with the smart meter, and if your home doesn’t have one, you may need to wait before you can effectively disaggregate your household energy use. Fortunately, utility companies nationwide are working to make smart meters the new standard.

In the meantime, you can gain a better understanding of your home’s energy efficiency potential by scheduling an energy audit with a knowledgeable local electrician.

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