Smart meters yield underwhelming savings

Smart meters and time-of-use pricing have only yielded small electricity savings so far. That’s according to researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who compared data for nine […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

Smart meters and time-of-use pricing have only yielded small electricity savings so far.

That’s according to researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who compared data for nine months before and after the new features were introduced in November 2011 by a utility company which serves more than 20,000 household customers.

The new study suggests smart technology only modestly reduced residential energy demand among users during the most expensive peak periods, dropping just 2.6% during on-peak periods and 2.4% during mid-peak periods following the change.

This is despite the installation of smart meters in Ontario costing around $1 billion (£780m).

A key goal of the roll-out was to shift demand away from peak periods to reduce maximum capacity requirements and save money on infrastructure.

Lukasz Golab, Management Sciences Professor at the university, said: “There is a gain but the gain is very small.”

Catherine Rosenberg, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: “Is it enough? Of that I’m not sure. We don’t have the data to decide if these kinds of savings warrant the use of smart meters.”

In the UK a study suggests around 85% of people with smart meters have cut energy use by changing how they act around the house.