news+events

News: Why 50 million smart meters still haven’t fixed America’s energy habits

This is the second article in a three-part series titled “Your Brain on Energy” for our new Energy and Environment coverage. The first article, titled “The next energy revolution won’t be in wind or solar. It will be in our brains,” appeared last week.

Five years ago came the promise: A great new way of saving money on your energy bills was on its way. An impressive new device called a “smart meter” —  a key component of the much touted “smart grid” —  would let consumers actually see how much power they’re using in their homes, thus empowering them to change their habits and slash their bills.

President Obama heralded the innovation: “Smart meters will allow you to actually monitor how much energy your family is using by the month, by the week, by the day, or even by the hour,” he said in 2009, as the federal government unleashed a $3.4 billion Smart Grid investment. “So coupled with other technologies, this is going to help you manage your electricity use and your budget at the same time.”

Lofty words —  but when it comes to changing people’s energy behavior, the smart meter revolution so far hasn’t been very revolutionary.

True, the meters are everywhere — utilities have installed 50 million at homes across the U.S., reaching 43 percent of homes overall, according to the Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Innovation. But that doesn’t mean consumers are easily accessing the available data or using it to change their energy use.

Read the full story. (Washington Post)