Newly available and independently validated data from the MyMeter program used by four rural electric co-ops in Minnesota and from two Massachusetts programs suggests that behavioral programs in which utilities feed detailed electricity usage information from smart meters to customers via a website or smartphone are effective at moving those customers toward energy efficient practices.
In the MyMeter program, (1) the biggest electricity users significantly cut their consumption, and (2) “engaged” customers who watched the website for at least six months cut their electricity use by 4.09% whereas “passive” users who didn’t log into the website reduced their electricity consumption only 2.25%.
Independent evaluation of the MyMeter program by Illume Advising also showed persistent behavioral changes, a major success marker, with the average 2.27% energy savings from one or two years of use only falling to 1.88% after three years.
A Field Guide to Utility-Run Behavior Programs from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy details the structure and results from 281 programs offered by 114 energy providers and third parties between 2008 and 2013.
The typical utility bill shows monthly electricity usage but the opt-in MyMeter program’s website shows users their usage in four-hour delayed 15-minute increments, charts daily temperatures, offers an energy-saving goal that can be tracked, tracks of household energy use and changes in it, provides utility notifications of price spikes from demand peak, and offers customers an energy threshold.
Accelerated Innovations, which distributes MyMeter, is working with about 30 utilities in Minnesota, Texas, Hawaii, and North Carolina, and is running a pilot program in India that allows real time information on overall energy use and on the energy consumption of each plugged-in item.