Access your thermostat from pretty much everywhere with just internet access to for example adjust your home temperature, turn down or shut off the air conditioner and other energy-hogging appliances. This is how the vaunted smart grid is supposed to play out in the homes in coming years.
Many homeowners can already remotely control their cable TV programs and other settings, so why not be able to do the same with electric appliances? This could allow people to for example program temperature settings into the future and override or alter these settings if necessary from everywhere as long as there’s an internet connection. This program can also be used to show how much electricity the major appliances use and therefore provide real-time home energy profiles.
Some people already use this smart grid meters but very few houses have this option. This is because the electric utilities don’t want to invest millions of dollars into this technology since it is expected that not a lot of people will use it. And it must be said that it is true that a lot of people who have tested this program lost interest and didn’t want to continue. Wake Electric tested the technology with 100 customers and two years later, only about half stuck with the program.
But people who did enjoy this futuristic feature said that they use it to change thermostatic settings remotely during business trips of some just prefer to adjust settings from their bed with their smartphone because they don’t want to get out of bed to fiddle with the thermostat. Most of the people who use these remote setting don’t use it to save effort but to save money by disabling energy-draining appliances.
A reason why only half of the customers stuck to the program is because there was a monthly fee to be paid. And although the monthly savings from using the system will more than pay for the fee, it does require a level of engagement that many consumers where not willing to take. So the perfect profile of a user can be a frequent traveler who is environmentally conscious, tech-savvy and frugal.
A benefit for electric utilities is that they have a reduction in peak energy demand. So they don’t have to fire up older, less efficient power plants and they don’t have to buy wholesaler power when the rates are most expensive.