In the US, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has launched a programme to loan in-home display devices to its customers in a bid to provide them with the means to understand their home’s energy use and near-real time information and estimated energy costs.
Residential customers with smart meters are eligible to participate in the programme. The in-house display will be provided to them at no cost.
The device, which is connected the customer’s smart meter, shows how much energy the home is using and home owners are able to monitor kilowatt-hours and price per hour fluctuate when appliances are turned on or off in the home.
Caroline Winn, vice president of customer services and chief customer privacy officer at SDG&E, said providing this option to customers is an important step to ensure they are making it easy for their customers to have access to technology that will help them reduce their energy bills.
SDG&E seeks increased customer engagement
In 2013, SDG&E introduced several new in-home energy display devices for purchase to assist customers manage their consumption. The concept of ‘borrowing’ a display is the next step in improving energy efficiency and customer engagement.
Once a request from a customer is received, SDG&E will evaluate the customer’s account for meter compatibility and will programme the device to connect with the customer’s meter, and then finally mail the in-home display to customer with instructions.
The San Diego utility will send the customer a return envelope to send the device back within the 30-day loan time period. Smart metered customers will receive the device on a first-come, first-served basis.
The utility claims that home area network technology has proven effective in increasing energy efficiency among customers, who have reported behavioural changes and using energy intensive appliances only when necessary.
Smart home technology proven at Canada utility
Utilities in other parts of North America are seeing the benefit of giving complimentary smart home technology to customers in order to increase engagement.
In August last year, Canadian energy companies in Ontario offered customers free smart energy devices in an effort to promote energy-saving behavior among energy consumers.
Milton Hydro launched a promotion to give customers a free ecobee wi-fi-enabled Smart Si thermostat that connects to their smart meters.
While electric utility company Essex Powerlines offered customers a free Blue Line in-home energy monitor provided they sign up for Ontario’s save ONenergy peaksaver PLUS programme.
The Blue Line display claims to save consumers roughly 10% on average on their home energy costs.