ACEEE: Smart Meters Not Smart Enough

Advanced metering initiatives alone are neither necessary nor sufficient for providing households with the feedback that they need to achieve energy saving; however, they do offer important opportunities. 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. So says ACEEE (American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy), based on a metastudy of 57 residential energy efficiency programs between 1974 and 2010.

In other words, smart meters alone aren't smart enough to get the job done. Energy efficiency program implementers and utilities need to also rely on proven approaches like enhanced billing and real-time, web-based feedback to get the energy-saving results they're looking for.

Says John A. “Skip” Laitner, director, Economic and Social Analysis, ACEEE: “The bottom line here is very simple: Smart meters in and of themselves are just not ‘smart’ enough to get the job done for consumers and our economy. While advanced metering provides a useful tool, to save energy, cut consumer electric bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, utilities need to use these advanced meters to provide consumers with information on their consumption in ways that grab consumers attention and encourage them to take action.”

Bottom line: Behavior change isn't as easy as installing a smart meter.