Do In-Home Displays Result in Energy Efficiency and Demand Reduction?

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A study of utility pilot programs on the effect of in-home displays on energy consumption indicates the answer is yes. However, the study also concluded that, in general, the pilot programs were not conducted to the scientific standard of reproducible results.

Do in-home displays result in energy efficiency and demand reduction? A study of utility pilot programs on the effect of in-home displays on energy consumption indicates the answer is yes. However, the study also concluded that, in general, the pilot programs were not conducted to the scientific standard of reproducible results.

A Webinar held on April 6, 2010 entitled, "Effects of In-Home Displays on Energy Consumption: A Summary of Pilot Results", set a new attendance record for the Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA) webinar series. Nearly one hundred call-in stations, with many of those having multiple attendees, heard from two PhD Economists from the Brattle Group who had studied the results of many utility pilot projects dealing with in-home displays and their effect on energy consumption.

The principle presenter, Ahmad Faruqui, stated, "you cannot manage what you cannot measure."

Faruqui's basic answer was that a dozen pilot programs indicated the answer is yes, when consumers were given real time information on their energy consumption, the average savings of electricity was 7 percent. But his colleague, Sanem Sergici, pointed out major caveats to the results of each pilot, such that many if not most did not rise to the scientific standard of reproducible results.

The presenters suggested that utilities conducting "pilots" must determine whether they are determining proof of concept, staging a showcase or, for instance, demonstrating a new rate structure, Faruqui said, "If the purpose of a pilot is, in fact, to determine whether consumers will use direct feedback on energy use by in-home displays to modify their behavior, that requires "scientifically designed experiments to yield reliable results.

He added, "If utilities are considering expensive programs and major capital decisions, they'd better spend the time and money in their own service areas to research the rationale for those decisions." "Research is expensive," Faruqui added, "but that cost is a tiny fraction of the cost of an ill-informed, major decision."

The webinar recording is available from the Peak Load Management Alliance (http://www.peaklma.com). For furthur information on cost and on how to obtain the recording, please contact Elliot Boardman, PLMA executive director, at eboardman(at)peaklma(dot)com.

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ELLIOT BOARDMAN
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