Smart Meters for Smart Energy Use: Tips to take Home
Power meters have come a long way—from the old metal boxes on the wall that a power company employee had to check every month. I am delighted to share, that new power meter technology is finally on its way to our homes.
Power companies have understood for years that the grid’s energy use changes hour to hour. The ability to meet the grid’s changing needs is expensive, so they pass that cost on to large customers in the form of higher costs of electricity during peak hours as well as monthly charges for the highest-use periods during the month. At times, nearly 50% of a large customer’s bill is comprised of these charges.
A side benefit of these rates is that energy use information, stored by the power companies, can be a valuable resource in identifying opportunities for savings.
Individual homes don’t have variable energy charges like those of large businesses, but thanks to smart meters installed by Southern California Edison, they too will be able to see when they’re using electricity. Once available, through SCE.com, customers will be able to see hour-by-hour how much energy their home consumes.
Once you can see when you’re using power, you can start to figure out where you can save.
If you’re using lots of energy when you’re not home or when you’re asleep, look for ways to use less by using a programmable thermostat or power strip to cut the “standby power” to electronics when you’re not using them. You’ll also be able to opt-in to electricity rates that charge more during the day or on weekdays, and less on evenings—like your cell phone.
Some are even web-connected and give data in real-time. Others, have iPad or smart phone apps for easy access to energy use data while mobile. Having this information will make smart energy use easier and more effective than ever. As an Energy Engineer here at LPA, I personally cannot wait. I look forward to helping you add these kinds of tools to your arsenal–both at home, and on the job, and I promise to keep you up to date.
Tom Pine, Ph.D., is a Senior Energy Engineer at California-based design firm LPA Inc. He has extensive experience in investment grade energy audits, retro-commissioning of existing buildings and commissioning of new buildings. Pine has worked on utility program implementation for Southern California Edison Demand Response, Monitoring Based Retro-commissioning (MBCx) and Energy Efficiency assessment programs. Tom lives with his twin daughters in Newport Beach, CA. Photos courtesy of: People Power Company.