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Report: Real-Time Feedback Encourages Electricity Savings

By Erin Weaver

This article originally appeared on BuildingGreen.com.

May 14, 2012
This energy monitor includes an in-home device displaying real-time usage information from the home's power meter.
Image courtesy PowerCostMonitor
This energy monitor includes an in-home device displaying real-time usage information from the home's power meter.

A report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “Results from Recent Real-Time Feedback Studies,” summarizes the findings of nine large-scale pilot studies testing the effects of real-time feedback on electricity consumption.

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To evaluate methods of engaging residential customers in reducing their energy usage, the authors reviewed studies from the U.S., U.K., and Ireland involving in-home displays, online interfaces, and prepayment meters, and found average savings of 3.8 percent. Pilots including dynamic pricing and real-time information related to peak demand found peak savings up to 11.3 percent. The largest savings (19.5 percent) came from Northern Ireland, where existing prepayment meters were replaced with new meters with a real-time display; the authors point out that one-third of Northern Irish households are fuel-poor (spending at least 10% of their income on fuel) and may have welcomed the chance to monitor their electricity use more closely. A few households in several pilots achieved savings of 25 percent.

The social dynamics involved in engagement are complex many households that were offered free in-home displays refused them, while others who were initially engaged lost interest after gaining a sense of their normal energy use. Further research is called for on the persistence of savings achieved in such studies. For more information, see ACEEE.org.

Copyright 2012 by BuildingGreen Inc.

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