The Smart Grid Not So Prime Time Ready

Are consumers ready to embrace home energy management technologies and the so called smart grid? Perhaps not – especially when you consider Microsoft recently reconsidering what to do with its Hohm energy management system in light of lack of consumer interest. Furthermore, a  recent survey conducted by Whirlpool and Habitat for Humanity International found that 70% of respondents felt that they didn’t understand smart grid technology enough, and that was among those who had any idea of smart grid technology at all. The most recent survey follows a similar report issued last year that suggests homeowners find green homes as too expensive to build.

Only 43% of consumers know what smart grid technology is, according to the survey. The percentage is higher, however, when surveying upper middle class and high income households, 63% and 57% respectively, suggesting those who earn more have better access to products that benefit from smart grid implementation.

smart meter, PG&E

image via PG&E

Of the consumers who knew about smart grid technology, 48% said compatible appliances were very important to green homes. But a separate report that surveyed builders found that 64% of those workers thought compatible appliances were an important part of green building. 62% of builders taking the survey said they believed homeowners had almost no idea about smart grid technology, and 79% of those builders claimed to understand the technology well enough to know how the system works.

Still, only 51% of builders believed that their industry as a whole was knowledgable on smart grid technology, an impressive gap. In any case, if the recent survey is accurate to real market trends, far too many consumers are being left in the dark about the future of energy distribution.

Also of note around smart grid technologies are increasing concerns about health effects from wireless signals coming from related smart meters, as well as privacy concerns around what utilities and government are doing with the more personalized data being collected on energy usage habits.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.

    • Linda

      We have no choice here in Ontario Canada. They’re forcing us to use the Smart Metres and making us pay more for the service. I would appreciate it more if they quit hiking the damn bill.