A story in today's New York Times highlights the gains made in energy savings in the UK through the increasing use of Smart Meters. Smart Meters provide real-time information on energy use so that homeowners can immediately see the effect of appliances, light bulbs, and computers on their energy usage and, their bills. It has been shown that such feedback (as any Prius owner will tell you) changes behavior, especially as the cost of energy rises.
In the UK, where creaking old homes vastly outnumber sleek new "green" homes (as they do in most cities of the world), Smart Meters are fostering such energy-saving behaviors as:
- Installing highly efficient windows
- Insulating under roofs
- Installing solar water heaters
- Using incandescent light bulbs little and replacing most or all bulbs with compact fluorescents
- Giving up using an electric teekettle, a notorious energy hog
Britain's Low Carbon Trust has been a major force in making the city of Brighton and its neighbor Hove, traditional and ancient towns, into prototypes for the new green village. The trust is sponsoring home tours so energy-saving Brighton homeowners can share how they have transformed their older homes.
In the U.S., Smart Metering has been tried in several locations, including Chicago and the state of California. By all accounts, they are a raving success. Duke Energy Indiana plans to install 800,000 Smart Meters starting this year. According to Energy Design, Strategy and News:
"Some 50 million old meters in the United States are likely to be replaced by advanced meters by 2010 at a cost of about $18 billion, according to a recent analysis by Deutsche Bank. Worldwide, only 6% of electricity, 8% of gas, and 4% of water meters are even automated, according to Texas Instruments Inc, which sells a variety of chips for meters. In fact, in the electric industry alone, 500 million meters worldwide could be replaced over the next 10 years, resulting in semiconductor sales of at least $7.5 billion.."
Okay, so let's get on with it.