Thursday, July 15, 2010

Energy and apathy

This is the energy meter I bought last year - it is supposed to tell us how much energy we are using at any one time, and to shock us into saving it.

Just noticed the battery's run out but no idea how long ago, and I don't think I'll bother replacing it. The truth is I stopped looking at it in about week three. Nothing changed very much, and few of the figures it displayed shocked us very much. Rather the opposite in fact. Running around the house turning off appliances on stand-by hardly dented the figure. And while putting the tumble dryer on was very noticeable, it was easy to conclude that we could afford the 90p per hour.

This makes me wonder about the millions being spent on the national rollout of smart meters. Most studies of their effectiveness report that few people are moved by them to reduce their energy consumption, and that for many people the economic motivation doesn't work that well. Having said that, whatever approach they end up taking to what is a huge behavioural change challenge, feedback will play some part - so there will be a function for these meters after all.