2013
10.25

I am constantly covering stories about connected-energy programs. It is encouraging to hear these stories, but while smart meters and other energy initiatives are being rolled out across the country, consumer involvement is still relatively low.

Organizations such as National Grid, an electricity and gas company in the Northeast United States, understand the importance of not only implementing energy technologies, but also educating consumers about overall efficiency, which is why National Grid unveiled its Sustainability Hub last week.

The Hub has interactive exhibits and demonstrations to educate consumers about how energy solutions can maximize savings. The goal is to help customers understand smart thermostats, smart plugs, smart appliances, and smart meters. The Hub, which is located in Worcester, Mass., even has the city’s first street-side electric vehicle charging station.

Educational initiatives such as this are huge and are one of the key elements that are needed to get consumers updated on the technology. But education is really only one component.

Case in point: I was having a conversation with a friend who recently received a smart meter—and she understands the smart meter. She excitedly told me about the new connected device on the side of her house, but quickly followed it up by saying nothing has really changed for her, as she has yet to view the data. The caveat in this case is the data isn’t being pushed to her; she has to go out and seek it.

Therein lies the rub. If consumers don’t have easy access to the energy data, nothing will change. Initiatives that drive home the importance of presenting energy data in a way that consumers can easily digest that information in order to make a change in their lives will be key to helping connected-energy initiatives thrive.

The Prius effect, for example, shows if drivers have realtime feedback and an easy way to digest energy data, the result will be reduced fuel consumption and overall environmental savings. This same concept can be applied in our homes, businesses, and cities.

As connected-energy programs move forward, education and easy access to energy data will be very important components for consumers. I am curious your thoughts on this topic. What do you believe is needed to drive connected energy efficiency initiatives forward in our homes, in our businesses, in our cities, and even in our cars?

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