Smart-Meters or Smart Users - what do we need?

A lot of nonsense has been talked about smart-meters -  some stretch the truth and others are remarkably honest - you must be the judge

 CenterPoint Energy’s smart meters and intelligent grid can significantly benefit the environment by reducing consumption of fossil fuel resources, thereby reducing emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other air pollutants. is straightforward:

 A smart meter itself won't save you money, but it may come with add-ons like an energy monitor or computer software that could.

Several things are clear:

It is said "a watched pot never boils" - studies have shown that watching energy use does not have this effect! However, someone who cares enough to watch energy use may be motivated enough to detect when waste occurs, be thereby more informed and take action.

Most energy is used by completely automated functions - eg thermostats and timeclocks.  These are completely insensible to price and so need to have "added smartness" if we are to benefit.

Such automated controls are general set to achieve an objective (to keep water hot) and not to do so efficiently (to keep water only so hot as is required).

Therefore clearly consumers as nascent energy managers benefit most when a pattern of waste can be observed.  The usual approach might be to document under what conditions energy consumption might be considered useful and when not.  THIS IS THE MISSING ELEMENT.

Let's take an example

A typical school, is occupied between 08:30 and 05:30 Monday - Friday during term-time.  Specific exceptions are notifiable (Parent teachers evening - 21:30, school play etc.)

Now if your "smart meter" does not know this pattern (and most don't because they are supplied by utility companies who have no knowledge of building use) then it is actually a meter, not a smart-meter.

The rate of use depends on weather and time of year, because energy is used for heating, lighting and possibly ventilation, and all energy is ultimately dissipated as heat (light bulbs are hot, efficient light bulbs are less hot),

So again if your smart-meter knows nothing about the weather, it cannot see what is waste and what is not.

So what is surely required is a tool to enable a "smart-person" to look at their circumstances and decide if the energy used under these circumstances can be justified.


Yes we need smart meters - but they are not smart - they provide data.

Yes we need weather data and building context and use case.

Finally to save energy we need to compare what is used, with what is needed - this is decisive as it distinguishes use from waste.