In-home Monitors Help Motivated Customers Save Energy

A pilot program by Seattle City Light found encouraging results on the effectiveness of in-home energy monitoring displays for helping people conserve energy.

A pilot program by Seattle City Light found encouraging results on the effectiveness of in-home energy monitoring displays for helping people conserve energy.

The 24 randomly selected participants reduced their electricity consumption by an average of 3 percent – or 340 kilowatt-hours – over the eight month test. That adds up to nearly $22 in savings. Some saved much more. The biggest reduction was 4,174 kilowatt-hours, or nearly 20 percent, which cut the customer’s bills by about $267 during the test period.

“In-home energy monitoring displays can be an effective tool for those motivated to get the most out of them,” said Energy Planning Analyst Lars Henrikson, who ran the pilot. “We’re continuing to monitor our test group and to see how their electricity use continues over time.”

City Light plans to expand the pilot program through its Neighborhood Power Project in early fall.  Annually, the utility focuses on a neighborhood area in its service territory to promote energy-saving programs and services and to provide energy education.  In-home monitors will provide additional energy saving opportunities for residents who are looking for more ways to conserve.

The energy monitors read a customer’s electricity meter and display the usage in real-time, including the cost of that usage. Recognizing how much energy they use and what it’s costing them can motivate people to be more energy efficient. There is immediate feedback.

One participant liked being able to see what effects appliances and devices have on power use:  His comment, “Turned off Wii and saw how much power it used.”

Seattle City Light has been a national leader in energy conservation for more than three decades. The in-home monitor pilot is one of many programs the utility is offering to help the community double its energy conservation during the next five years.

Seattle City Light is the ninth largest public electric utility in the United States.  It has the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents.  City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.