Homeowners who can monitor their power usage in real-time will make immediate adjustments, according to a pilot program conducted by a Texas power grid operator and partially funded by the Department of Energy. In fact, 83 percent of the 500 Houston homeowners who participated reported turning off lights at night or when leaving a room after seeing how much power they consumed on an in-home display.
In the test, CenterPoint Energy provided homeowners with cell-phone size devices that reported power usage minute-by-minute by communicating wirelessly with a smart meter. According to the Houston Chronicle, residents made a variety of adjustments after seeing how much they were spending on power including:
- 51 percent said they adjusted their thermostats to make the heating or air conditioning run less frequently;
- 34 percent switched to energy-saving light bulbs;
- 15 percent installed programmable thermostats;
- 12 percent sealed air leaks in their homes;
- 10 percent unplugged electronic equipment when it wasn't in use;
- 8 percent installed insulation.
Those are all good moves, as we reported in our special section on Saving Energy. We’re working on a new report now that will include more energy-saving ideas as well as our latest lightbulb tests. It will be online and on newsstands in early September.
—Mary H.J. Farrell