In-home displays for displaying energy usage have had a mixed reaction, with some regarding them as an important stimulus to modifying energy usage. However others regard them as having little more than a short term ‘novelty’ value. [Engerati-In-Home Displays to Save Dutch Customers 9% and Don’t Leave Your Customers Behind – Learn how to Unlock Smart Meter Value for Consumers]
In-home display loaner
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) may then have hit the mark with a new loan programme, which allows customers to borrow these devices at no cost for a 30-day period. As the display is on loan there is no capital outlay for the customer as there would be in purchasing such a device. And with the short fixed loan period, customers may well choose to make the most of it, knowing that they only have a limited time to do so.
SDG&E’s goal with the programme is to enable customers to understand their home’s energy use and identify high energy use appliances with near-real time information from their smart meters and estimated energy costs.
“The option to borrow an in-home display at no cost is an important step for us to ensure we are making it easy for our customers to have access to innovative technology that will ultimately help them reduce their energy bills,” said Caroline Winn, SDG&E’s vice president of customer services and chief customer privacy officer. “I can speak from personal experience that my in-home display has been very useful to understand my own energy usage and I’m confident many of our customers can benefit from this tool as well.”
Compatible HAN devices
The loaner programme forms an extension of a 2013 initiative by SDG&E and the other California IOUs, at the behest of the state Public Utilities Commission, to initiate lists of in-home displays and other home area network (HAN) devices that have been tested as compatible with their smart meter networks.
SDG&E’s list currently comprises 10 devices, including in-home displays of various types from Aztech Associates, Ceiva Logic and Rainforest Automation, a router from Digi International, and programmable communicating thermostats from ecobee and Energate. Only these devices will be provisioned by SDG&E to its smart meters. Such listing must be initiated by the manufacturers, who are also required to ensure their devices remain compatible following firmware updating or other changes. It does not constitute certification of a device’s operability, or endorsement by the utility.
Other device types that can be validated, in addition to in-home displays and PCTs, include USB dongles, load control devices and smart appliances.
HAN technology demonstrates effectiveness
SDG&E says that past testing of HAN technology has demonstrated effectiveness in increasing energy efficiency among customers, who report they are turning off more lights, increasing air conditioning temperature, watching less TV and unplugging devices. Time will tell the success of this new loan programme. SDG&E haven’t indicated how many displays they have available, merely that they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and a waiting list will be developed as needed.