Does smart meter feedback generate a smart energy culture? Lessons from a Canadian residential in-home display study

Authors: Paul Parker*, University Of Waterloo, Bronwyn Lazowski, University of Waterloo, Gord Stephen, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA
Topics: Energy, Economic Geography
Keywords: Energy culture, smart grid, engagement, in-home display
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon C1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A major challenge of the current electricity grid is the ‘triad of anonymity,’ between utilities, consumers and embedded energy practices (Summerton, 2004). Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) or the smart grid, brings new opportunities to reduce this anonymity. In particular, real-time data from smart meters can provide households with consumption feedback, while also providing utilities with increased knowledge of consumption practices. But how can AMI influence residential energy cultures (Stephenson et al., 2010)? In order to develop a smart energy culture, households need to be properly engaged with smart metering data. One method of engagement is through In-Home Displays. One case study in Ontario, Canada can bring insights for policy and program development for engaging households with real-time smart metering data. In-Home Displays (IHDs) were installed within 5275 households in Ontario. Utilizing 2 years of hourly consumption data for the 5275 households compared to a control group of 3022 households allowed for assessing the households’ load shape profiles as well as thermal archetypes, and separating them into different ‘sub-cultures’ of consumption using clustering methods. This paper aims to answer: what can smart meter data convey about residential energy cultures and sub-cultures? Do different sub-cultures of consumers respond differently to real-time feedback? What do policy-makers need to take into consideration when designing smart meter feedback policy/programs? Overall, this case study provides insights into the effective use of smart meter data for targeting consumers, designing effective programs and establishing a smart energy culture alongside the introduction of AMI.

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