There’s No App for That

The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative’s 2011 Report is a baseline document summarizing the research on consumer beliefs, attitudes and concerns. We’ve looked at ways to start the adoptive cycle, and the importance of recognizing regional attitudes. Today: the mechanics of utility options and interfaces.

The report draws these conclusions from pilot programs and focus groups:

  1. People do respond to price signals.
  2. Technology does help people lower and defer usage.
  3. People expect that smart meters will give them feedback and information about their own energy usage. They dislike one-way data gathering meters.
  4. People are surprised and disappointed to learn that they might have to purchase a monitoring mechanism separately.  Most feel that basic information about their bill and usage should be provided at no additional cost.
  5. Random assignment of devices undermines engagement. Utilities should allow choice and self-selection.
  6. Energy management solutions have to be easier in order to achieve mainstream adoption.

As people learn more, and as more devices and applications become available that fit their lives, participation and momentum will grow.

The research also shows that the “right” usage information coupled with the “right” price signals produces the biggest decreases in consumption and increases in satisfaction. But what’s “right” is not the same for everyone, and utilities should allow consumers to choose among options.

In short? There’s no single killer app for this.

Photo credit: Christopher Binning