We first wrote about the "Smart Grid" over two years ago, but in lieu of the recently failed attempts by Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm to produce energy saving software platforms that appeal to residential customers I'm starting to wonder if homeowners are going to even care about the smart grid anytime soon. The CEO of Groom Energy (full disclosure: he's also my boss) had similar thoughts recently on the post Home Energy Apps, They're not yet Plug and Play:
Unless it works out of box with a plug, home networking system integration projects are only for serious DIYers. Not to say there hasn’t been progress with early smart meter rollouts to the home, but the facts are today its still very early. Unless the utility pays for and implements the early home networking apps on the backs of these initial rollouts, adoption in the home will continue to move very slowly.
But in my opinion, it's not just the lack of "plug and play" that keeps homeowners away from serious home energy management...I'm beginning to believe (and really always have) that most homeowners just don't care about their energy consumption enough to actively manage it!
As Google and Microsoft have shown (and as we've been noticing behind the scenes here at Mapawatt), it's tough to find the right combination of tools that appeal to the majority of homeowners. We touched on this topic on our post "Living with a Smart Meter" where we quoted someone who has been doing just that:
The surprising lesson in all of this is that my smart meter has almost nothing to do with any of these lessons. The data I rely upon was available before my smart meter was installed and the monthly summaries are still the most useful data available for my purposes. So where is the consumer benefit from smart meters? As far as I can tell all the benefits are flowing to PG&E, but my rates are still going up.
Don't worry though, I'm not thinking about giving up on residential energy conservation, I'm just wondering on the best way to approach it that would appeal to the most residential energy consumers. I'm not sure if the "smart grid" is the right way (not that it doesn't have value, but we may need to stop marketing it to homeowners). The concept of the "enterprise smart grid", or energy monitoring and management applications for organizations that consume a lot of energy makes perfect sense, because they usually have a person (or a team of people) who works 40 hours a week to reduce that organization's energy bills; which sometime are in the millions of dollars!
But do homeowners have the time or do they even spend enough on energy to want to spend any time saving it? What do you think?