Photo: Flickr, CC
First a Pilot Project with 500 Homes
"Smart grid" is the new big thing in the world of green, and despite some fuzziness on the definition of what a smart grid actually is, an update to our energy grid to make it "smarter" and more efficient is definitely overdue. The city of Amsterdam is the latest to join the party with a new pilot program that will be managed by IBM and Cisco, along with the Dutch utility Nuon. 500 homes will be outfitted with energy management systems, including smart meters and energy monitors.
Photo: Flickr, CC
It is expected that the lucky people part of the pilot program will save on energy costs and reduce their CO2 emissions by "at least 14 percent." This should help Amsterdam reach its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2025.
Through this project, IBM and Cisco aim to demonstrate how intelligence throughout the electrical grid can dramatically reduce outages and faults, improve responsiveness, handle current and future demand, increase efficiency and manage costs. [...]
"Giving the citizens of Amsterdam more information and better control over their energy use will cut down on costs and consumption as well as reduce their overall impact on the environment," said Marthin de Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group. "Innovative cities like Amsterdam recognize the opportunity in using the standards-based intelligent communications network as a platform for economic development, better city management and improved quality of life for citizens. With this pilot, we hope to demonstrate how smart and connected communities can be more energy conscious and more green."
Make Energy Consumption Something Visible
That's definitely the key thing; empower people by giving them more information to make better informed choices. To most people, energy consumption is invisible, and it is not always clear how their actions have an impact. They think about energy only when times come to pay their bills, and even then it's not quite clear how that energy is used.
But give people clear information on the current electricity rate (if time-of-use pricing is implemented, and it should since it helps smooth down peaks, reducing the need for new power plants to be built) and which appliances in their homes are using the most energy, you create a feedback loop that nudges people in the right direction. It's the same principle as the LCD screens showing MPG in hybrid cars; they teach people how to drive more efficiently. There's no reason the same can't happen with home energy use. Everybody wants a lower electricity bill, and most people would like to do something good for the environment.
Just give them the tools...