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Smart Meter Pilot Project Helps Residents Monitor and Change Energy Use

Smart meters are helping resident in Houston Texas monitor and reduce their energy habits, according to survey results released by CenterPoint Energy, Inc.'s and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Two thirds of the 500 participants of the smart meter In-Home Display pilot reported that they have changed their electricity consumption behavior as a result of the energy use data they accessed on their in-home displays.

The pilot program, which began lat fall, was partially funded with a $200 million Smart Grid Investment Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The program is meant to enable consumers to better monitor and manage their electric use and help modernize the electric infrastructure.

In the survey:

  • 83 percent of respondents reported turning off lights at night or when not in the room,
  • 51 percent of respondents reported adjusting the temperature on their thermostat,
  • 93 percent of respondents reported they are satisfied with their in-home display, and
  • 97 percent of respondents reported they will continue using it.

"Through the Recovery Act, the Department of Energy is helping to build a smart, efficient, secure, and reliable 21st century electrical system in Houston and across the country," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. "Smart grid technologies like those we are seeing here today will provide families and businesses with real-time information about their energy use, helping them to save money every month."

Consumers who have already received their smart meter no longer have to wait for their bill to access their electric consumption information. After a two-month acceptance period following the installation of a smart meter, consumers can get detailed information on their electric usage by visiting SmartMeterTexas.com.

In the future, consumers will have the option of purchasing an in-home display, providing them with up-to-the-minute usage information.  The survey responses from the pilot show that this type of real-time data can have a significant impact on consumers' energy use behavior.

In addition, smart meters are read remotely, minimizing the need to go house-to-house. Smart meters will also automatically notify CenterPoint Energy about outages to help the company restore power more efficiently. To date, CenterPoint Energy has installed nearly 1.5 million smart meters in its 2.2 million meter system. The company is scheduled to complete deployment in mid 2012. By automating routine transactions, these new smart meters have eliminated more than 1 million routine service visits by employees in vehicles since 2009.

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