THE U.S. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced the findings of a major study analysing the impact of information-based energy efficiency programmes, which produced impressive results.
The report identifies energy reductions that could generate billions in savings for Americans and reduce carbon (CO2) emissions by more than 8.9 million metric tons per year if extended nationwide. The EDF analysis released relies on data gathered from 11 different utilities in six states. The data analysed includes more than 22 million meter reads, gathered over periods of a minimum of twelve months from each of the deployments. The report analyses the effectiveness of these programmes and estimates the impact of taking these savings to the national scale.
Kate Robertson, Energy Efficiency Specialist at EDF, said at the launch of the report: “Energy efficiency is widely considered one of the greatest untapped energy resources. This study confirms that simple behavioral changes generate consistent savings across a wide range of utilities and demographics.
“ The message is clear: customers empowered with information on energy usage are more likely to save energy and money, all while reducing their carbon footprint.”
The report confirms the power of information. By providing decision makers with accurate and real-time information about how they use energy in their facilities, they are empowered to save money through making smart energy decisions. Being able to display energy use data to the workforce also empowers them to make behavioural changes for even more savings.
Matt Davis, an EDF research fellow, in a new analysis of energy savings and behaviour wrote:
“Electricity and heat are effectively invisible, their prices are delineated in abstract and unfamiliar units, and monthly billing ensures a temporal distance between usage and payment.”
To translate what Davis is saying we can look at the example of shopping or refueling our cars. We see the price of every item before we even decide to take it off the shelf, and we can still change our minds and put the item or items back before going to the till. When we fill up our cars, we see the cost and how much fuel we are adding to the tank, we decide when to stop adding more or decide we have spent enough. It is not like that with our monthly or quarterly electricity bill, we have used and spent money and do not know the amounts until that bill arrives.
Real-time monitoring of a businesses or organisations electricity use, means we gain control of what we are using and what we are spending. If we can see the amount electricity we use, as we use it we can make effective decision to reduce waste. If we add analytical data we can also see where we can cut waste, saving energy and money.
If the effects of energy saving is also seen by all involved, staff and management, then they influence each other to reduce energy waste. Behavioural scientists have found that peer pressure is a good motivator for efficiency. So intelligent electricity and real-time energy monitoring provides gains through clear, smart energy decisions and positive peer pressure from all involved.