Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nudging on energy efficiency

With the age of smart grid beckoning, the most effective way to address the challenge of optimizing energy consumption is using Energy Dashboards in houses, offices and commercial establishments.

A Dashboard which is designed taking into account the cognitive biases of human beings can "nudge" consumers to cut down on wasteful consumption and optimize their electricity usage. A Dashboard should not only enable consumers to turn on and off specific circuits and appliances, but also provide real time information in a manner that nudges them into acting to optimize on their electricity usage. Its effectiveness can be increased manifold with Time of Day (ToD) or Availability Based Tariff (ABT), both of which prices electricity differentially based on demand, and thereby encourages people to minimize their consumption during peak times.

Google PowerMeter, which is being tested with a number of utilities and is proposed for rollout later this year, receives information from utility smart meters and energy management devices and provides customers with access to their home electricity consumption right on their personal iGoogle homepage.

An smart grid based efficient energy management pilot at Fayetteville, North Carolina attaches controllers on electrical appliances and uses software to help users set their daily use profiles, check their energy consumption from a wireless Internet connection, select a monthly target bill amount, and authorize the utility to cycle their appliances off for brief periods during peak energy consumption events.

For example, a consumer can set up a profile detailing when they wake up in the morning, go to work, return home, what temperature they’d like in their home, and say that their bill should not exceed $200. The consumer's use profile is set to achieve the aforementioned goals by taking into account their past bill history.

This pilot has helped local businesses and residents actively participate in the monitoring and control of their energy usage with savings of up to 40%.

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