For Energy Management Displays: Mandate vs. Choice

onzoimageWhen it comes to home energy management displays — devices and dashboards that will help you manage your energy consumption — what’s better: have utilities install these things alongside smart meter rollouts, or leave it up to customers to choose if they want one or not? That debate is raging in the UK right now, and a British power industry trade group that includes British Gas, EDF, and npower, called the Energy Retail Association (ERA), is currently lobbying the UK government to avoid having to install a £15 (about $25) energy display in homes as part of the mandate to install smart meters in every home by 2020.
It’s easy to brush aside the concerns of the utilities as not wanting to foot the bill for the extra gear for purely economic reasons. In addition, home energy displays will clearly play a crucial and valuable role in the smart grid. But I think the debate raises important questions about how consumers will actually want to access their energy data and if there is a one-size-fits-all solution. As the ERA told the Times, the companies want to “offer customers precisely the kind of display they would find most useful — whether this is with a display unit, via a web site, or even through a mobile phone application.”
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Smart Fridges to Invade the UK

If our appliances get too smart, can they still be unplugged? People in the UK are about to find out, as smart grid technology will make its way into their kitchens under a new government program that will give away 3,000 smart fridges in the country (hat tip to the Guardian). UK energy utility npower, part of Germany’s RWE, is working on the project with UK smart-energy startup RLtec, which will provide “dynamic demand” technology. The fridges are expected to be rolled out next year.

The new appliances are designed to be easy to use, involving little or no user input, and are expected to save people a significant amount of cash on their energy bills. One recent study from the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford found that energy management systems can help cut residential electricity use by up to 15 percent. Read More about Smart Fridges to Invade the UK