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Advanced (or “smart”) meters for residential electricity use are all the rage today.

According to a new study by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), if Americans are to cut their household electricity use by a substantial margin and save tens of billions of dollars in the process, the nation’s electric utilities will have to lend a hand by providing consumer-friendly “residential feedback” tools, including real-time (or near-real time) Web-based or in-home feedback devices (the Google PowerMeter is one example) and enhanced billing approaches.
The ACEEE analysis shows that advanced metering initiatives now being used by many utilities are neither necessary nor sufficient alone for providing households with the feedback that they need to achieve energy savings. To realize potential feedback-induced savings, advanced meters must be used in conjunction with in-home (or on-line) displays and well-designed programs that successfully inform, engage, empower, and motivate people.


ACEEE’s new report analyzes the results of 57 different residential sector feedback initiatives performed between 1974 and 2010. With approximately 115 million households nationwide, aggregate residential sector energy savings could make a meaningful contribution to U.S. energy security and climate goals, according to the study, which also details potential consumer pocketbook savings. Through tools such as real-time feedback and enhanced billing, residential electricity consumers can better evaluate their energy consumption practices, determine how energy is being wasted, and then take action to be more energy efficient. (ACEEE)