Chances are pretty good that you’ve heard about utility companies installing what they call a “smart meter.” You probably have one in your home or business, or might have read or heard about the questions or concerns surrounding these so-called smart meters, or maybe all of sudden your utility bill got unexpectedly high!
But here is the biggest question that everyone should be asking… What has my smart meter done for me lately?
Let me clarify this whole “smart” thing for you. Your utility company has spent lots of marketing money to tell you that this fancy “smart meter” is there to provide you, the customer, with more energy data. This data also helps them to share (with you) some helpful hints on what we all can do to manage our energy better and thus reduce our bills.
Ohhhhhh! So now we get it! The utilities have installed smart meters as a customer service initiative to help us! Well, that is just so nice of them! Wait a minute… energy data? And whatever happened to that nice meter-reader person that used to come around here and, wait… what was that again about energy data?
So now let me rephrase the question raised before… What has all of that smart meter “big data” done for me lately?
The typical smart meter can tell you how much energy you use every hour. How? Well if you have an inclination, you can go to the trouble (read: not user-friendly) to go online and see those hours in a nice, pretty bar graph. But that’s only if their system allows you to see it or download it! FULL DISCLOSURE – I actually got this message from my utility today when I logged in to see my data: “We’re currently experiencing delays in loading usage data, but we’re working hard to fix this as soon as possible – Thanks for your patience!” Like most of us have the patience to login and figure out where to find this data in the first place!
Alright so let’s say you did figure it out and now you’re logged in and you can see those 1-hour energy-use bars. Did I mention however that those 1-hour increments are from the 24-hour period that was YESTERDAY?! So now you’ve actually taken the time out of your busy day to actually login, find your data and now you have to figure out what you were doing (or not doing) yesterday to consume energy in your home. When did my daily routine become an episode of CSI?
I think most of us would just give up at this point. Moreover, I think most of us don’t even bother to begin with. If you are a glutton for punishment however, why don’t we look for a useful tool? I mean, there’s got to be an app for that right? Well by golly there is! But unfortunately, most folks have never heard of the Obama-sponsored, “Green Button Apps.” But maybe the fighter in you wants to still try? Ok then… you have to first figure out which app to choose, then know how to download the app and link the app to your data from your utility account.
Full Disclosure -again- I actually tried linking my data to one of these apps and got this message: “Retrieving your data can take up to 8 hours, but in most cases we have it within a few minutes.” After 15 minutes of watching that little spinning wheel I got this message: “Oops, something went wrong, we’re having trouble retrieving your electric information. We will continue to looking into the problem and notify you when we know more.”
Ok! We surrender!!
That sure is an awful lot of work for something that we’ve been told was “smart.” To be fair, these meters are an improvement on “the process” by which utilities collect energy data in a world that understands that we need to save energy — but If you want to really make a dent in your energy use, your home or building needs to become genius.
To truly get a handle on the energy that YOU are consuming, it’s important to start by measuring your actual energy use as it happens – I’m talking live, real-time monitoring. Start by having an energy expert install a “genius meter” that will send your data to your own personal, easy-to-understand dashboard which is viewable from all of your devices.
You should be able to see how much energy your lights, heating or air conditioning systems and other appliances are using and how much they are each costing you every minute of every day. If you know what those energy-using things are actually costing you, wouldn’t it be easier to make investments and change behaviors to lower those energy costs?
Once you have easy access to the information that truly is smart, you’ll be able to be an “energy avenger” and make intelligent, informed changes that will really make a difference in YOUR home or building. Don’t wait for generic energy-saving tips from your utility or “estimated savings” from so-called smart devices. REAL measurement will make us smarter and change everything. That’s where change will begin for you.
Got more questions/comments? Shoot an email to email@example.com or leave a comment below. We’re looking forward to it!