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Tracking Energy Use

To help raise awareness of energy use, increasing numbers of consumers are considering installing in-home displays—devices that show how much energy a home uses at any given time.

Most in-home displays connect to a co-op’s advanced metering infrastructure system. These advanced metering systems, which vary from co-op to co-op, provide valuable information that allows the utility to tailor operations for maximum efficiency.

Some of the in-home display models even allow you to set an energy-savings goal and track your progress through an energy use Web portal like Google PowerMeter or Microsoft Hohm.

Folks who use in-home displays are likely to save 6 to 10 percent annually on their electric bills, according to studies by the Cooperative Research Network, an arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Even after people stop actively paying attention to the displays, electric use behavior often changes permanently. On average, homeowners who “forget” about the displays may consume 1 to 3 percent less energy than before they had one.

By using less electricity, consumers help electric co-ops shave their load. This saves everyone money in the long run by delaying the co-op’s need to build power plants or purchase additional wholesale power in a competitive market.

—National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Ya gotta wanna
The most effective displays are easy to understand, interactive, and show electric use of individual appliances, says Brian Sloboda, the Cooperative Research Network’s senior program manager. “These devices are best for those who are comfortable with gadgets, and possibly those with higher home energy use.

“People considering in-home displays should have a desire to reduce or at least understand their energy use,” Sloboda says. “The displays, for example, will show how much electricity is needed when lights are left on in an empty room, and how much it takes to operate a really big LCD TV.”

In-home displays typically cost between $100-$200, depending on features.

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