Residential smart grid projects have resulted in energy savings of up to 19.5 percent, and produce average savings of 3.8 percent, according to research by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Recent smart grid policy initiatives in the United States and the EU have led to large-scale research projects investigating the use of real-time feedback technologies that leverage data provided by smart meters and provided the source material for Results from Recent Real-Time Feedback Studies. ACEEE has called the average savings “modest but encouraging.”
The largest savings of 19.5 percent came from the combination of prepayment and real-time feedback in homes in Northern Ireland that had a new prepayment meter installed. The prepayment meter may have offered a strong incentive for these customers to alter their energy use, ACEEE suggests.
At the other end of the spectrum, two pilots reviewed in ACEEE’s report – one run by utility Commonwealth Edison in the Chicago area and one run by Scottish Power in the U.K. – found that there was no effect in the aggregate of providing real-time information to households about their electricity use. ACEEE suggests that the poor results here may be the result of the “business-as-usual or opt-out design of the trials,” under which any savings garnered by the test group may have been cancelled out or masked by energy use in the wider customer base.
A recent report from EL Analyst by Jim McHale, founder of Memoori, looks at whether or not the smart grid will deliver on its promise in 2012 and beyond. EL Analysts is part of EL PRO, Environmental Leader’s premium content service.