Friday, July 24, 2009

To an energetic future

Very encouraged to hear about GE Smart Grid, which uses power data to alter consumer behaviour for their benefit. So, for example, if your power meter clearly indicates you pay more for using the washing machine in the evening, then you can use it in the morning instead and save money. This project is also working on allowing consumers to generate their own electricity from solar panels (for example) and selling it back to the utility company. Though this Business Week article says that it only results in a monthly reduction in expenditure of $2, don't forget to read the comments section where Mark Brian, GE's Home Energy Manager who is featured in the article, clarifies:

My overall bill is down almost 20% since I received the smart appliances and started modifying my consumption behavior. The $2.00 savings number quoted above is a comparison to my actual "variable rate" bill, and what my bill would have been if I had paid a flat rate of 6% per kW-hour. What this tells me is that I have successfully avoided the price increase that came with time-of-use pricing. Overall ... my bill is still down 18%-20% on average and I'm successfully bypassing the electricity price increase!
On the heels of Google Power Meter and what I heard at the 'Revealing Energy' sessions at TED Global yesterday, I think making energy-saving a commercial business project can really do wonders for our future generations, and I don't mean to sound fluffy when I say that. I'd use GE Smart Grid or Google Power Meter in a snap if they were available to me. I think that apart from making sound financial sense, they'd really contribute to environmental sustainability. Those are only good things, no? And companies like GE and Google are demonstrating that they are outward-looking by investing in these projects. Hats off to them.