Introduction and Context
Every month, we receive an electric bill from our utility. And every month, we dutifully pay that bill. Some months we pay more, some months less. Sometimes the utility provides perspective on our use compared to our neighbors. Sometimes we receive a flyer or email suggesting fairly general methods to decrease our bill.
Regardless, at best we receive 12 data points per year on which to act. Pretty sparse. So, the reality remains: most of us have little idea how much electricity we consume at any given moment. And without that knowledge, we are poorly positioned to make changes in our usage.
But what happens when we do have easy access to electricity data? What are the benefits of real-time energy data? And how can we use this data to achieve deep savings?
According to Faruqui et al (2009), consumers with access to real-time electrical data save between 3% and 13% through conservation. That’s $40 to $174 per year for the average American household! And up to $236 for the average new home of about 2500 square feet. Work by Foster and Mazur-Stommen (2012) suggests savings as high as 20%. However, a large proportion of their sample set drew from customers on pre-payment plans not found in the US. Zipperer et al (2013) conducted a review and determined a slightly narrower 4% to 9% band for savings. But these researchers noted a difference between opt-in and opt-out methods for gathering sample sets. Basically, opt-in groups achieve significantly higher savings than opt-out groups. Given their vintage, these studies typically provided real-time data through an in-home display (IHD). Today, of course, we would expect a mobile app to show the benefits of real-time energy data!
Emporia Savings Calculations
For calculating savings, we considered that the Emporia Vue would integrate 1) a quality app interface, as opposed to an IHD, to deliver real-time data; 2) users who have chosen to download this app, thereby opting in; and 3) variable levels of user engagement, which reasonably correlate to their level of effort towards conservation. Therefore, Emporia selected the 3% – 13% savings range as its basis, but has applied scaling to that range in order to determine a particular user’s calculated savings. For example, a user who has downloaded the Emporia app and consults it daily receives credit for the full 13% savings. In contrast, a user who rarely opens the app receives only 3% savings.