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Studies find moderate savings from smart grid feedback devices, says ACEEE

From the February 24, 2012 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published February 24, 2012

Recent smart grid policy initiatives in the United States and Europe have led to large-scale research projects investigating the use of real-time feedback technologies that leverage data provided by smart meters. A review of recent studies, released Feb. 23 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, found residential electricity savings ranging from 0 to 19.5%, with average savings of 3.8%.
"This level of savings is modest but encouraging, given the number of factors that appear to influence the use of feedback devices," said Ben Foster, senior analyst at ACEEE and lead author of the report. "While by no means an exhaustive list, these factors include the design of the devices and the types of content they provide, the degree to which these devices enable the various tasks people want to accomplish using the information provided, negotiations between members of the household that influence energy use, and perhaps a predisposition in responding to information about energy use."
The largest savings of 19.5% came from the combination of prepayment and real-time feedback in Northern Irish homes that had a new prepayment meter installed. At the other end of the spectrum, two pilot projects reviewed in ACEEE's report found that providing real-time information to households about their electricity use had no effect, in the aggregate.
A small portion of the population, which the report calls "cyber-sensitives," appears more inclined to save electricity based on real-time information, but this group cuts across demographic lines, ACEEE said. "This suggests that real-time feedback may be deployed most cost-effectively as a 'boutique' energy efficiency strategy, aimed at groups that are more likely to actively monitor their energy use," said Foster.
The report is posted on the ACEEE website.


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