VaasaETT research shows real benefits of smart meters
Metering Europe is in full swing and ESMIG, the European Smart Metering Industry Group, yesterday revealed the results of independent research, written and published by global energy think tank, VaasaETT.The publication, "Empower Demand" is a report on the potential of smart meter-enabled programmes to increase energy efficiency and increase systems benefits.
The report demonstrates the actual effects of around 100 smart meter-enabled pilots and roll-outs across the world. It also analyses the features and setups that caused the greatest effects and summarises lessons for utilities to maximise consumer benefits.
In my opinion, the findings indicate that the smart meter industry is on the brink of making a big contribution to consumer energy efficiency, as it:
1. Confirms the consumer can benefit from smart metering
The report concludes that significant reductions in the energy used can be achieved by the appropriate smart metering installations, as well as changing the times of day the energy is consumed.
It's encouraging that the findings prove to a large extent that consumers can change their energy consumption behaviour if they have the right information at hand. The display of almost real-time energy consumption data on in-home devices (IHDs) led to an average 8.7% reduction in energy use, compared to 5%-6% reductions achieved through more informative bills and access to usage data on websites.
2. Proves consumer education is as important as the technology
The report identifies that for the energy efficiency and consumer benefits of smart metering to be achieved, installations must include the ability to present current and historical energy consumption data in a format that consumers understand.
It also shows that the way the installations are approached by utilities, and the level of education and assistance given to consumers, are as important as the technology itself. A smart metering installation rich in functionality may not deliver consumer benefits if the consumer is not properly informed and thus engaged.
The findings only serve to support Navetas' belief that smart meters need to get 'smarter'. If an average 8.7% savings can be made through a simple display, imagine the impact on behaviour that in-depth energy disaggregation information by appliance could have.
The report also confirms the importance of consumer engagement and education in helping to drive lasting behavioural changes in the home. It's only when smart meter technology can provide consumers with the right level of information that they will be motivated to realise the benefits, and help energy providers and government achieve their ambitious energy efficiency goals.Nick Wellington