Can smart meters make us greener?

Sep 21, 2011

The UK government wants every home to have one by 2020, but might the new generation of electricity meters help to change people’s attitudes to climate change?

An academic at The University of Nottingham is to argue that providing information about saved carbon emissions through the new could be more effective in persuading consumers to changing their behaviour than by demonstrating savings on their bills alone.

Dr. Alexa Spence, an academic in the University’s School of Psychology and a research fellow at The University of Nottingham-based Horizon Digital Economy Research hub, is an expert in public perceptions of and energy issues.

She will be speaking at the two-day international conference Energy and People: Futures, Complexity and Challenges, jointly hosted by the UK Energy Research Center (UKERC) and the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University and running from Tuesday September 20 to Wednesday September 21.

Dr. Spence is due to begin a study examining the impact that smart meters will have on people’s perceptions of climate change. She said: “Providing customers with information on saved carbon emissions on these devices may be useful in helping to make climate change real and empowering people to make a difference.

“While people may be primarily concerned about energy prices, this is likely to encourage only certain changes in behavior. Psychology theory suggests that talking about energy savings in terms of the environment may encourage people to undertake a broader range of sustainable behaviors.”

Smart meters are a new type of electricity meter that can remotely communicate with energy companies to provide accurate meter readings without the need for someone to come and physically read the meter. As bills are accurate it cuts out estimated bills or the potential for over or underpaying.

Dr. Spence will be one of a number of energy and climate change specialists presenting at the conference this week, which aims to examine the complex relationship between energy and people, including the impact future energy practices will have on communities around the world. It will examine the links between society and energy use, particularly in the transition to a secure, affordable and low-carbon energy system.

Other papers being delivered at the conference will centre on topics including: whether people have a Jekyll and Hyde personality when acting pro-environmentally to save energy in the home compared to the workplace; a controversial proposal for charging whereby customers are limited to a maximum power they can draw at any one time; and the global impacts surrounding the increasing demand for transport biofuels.

Explore further: Many tongues, one voice, one common ambition

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Home energy monitors may not cut electricity use

Sep 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Home energy monitors (smart meters or Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS)), monitor the energy used by households and/or individual appliances within the home, and they are often recommended ...

Climate change hits home

Mar 20, 2011

Direct experience of extreme weather events increases concern about climate change and willingness to engage in energy-saving behaviour, according to a new research paper published in the first edition of the journal Nature Cl ...

Poll: People want to battle climate change

Nov 05, 2007

A BBC poll indicated most people around the world said they would make personal sacrifices -- including higher energy bills -- to address climate change.

The Antarctic Canary -- the human impact on climate change

Sep 04, 2006

As the UK attempts to move towards a low carbon economy, leading scientists and a world expert on sustainable energy in buildings this week discuss the evidence for climate change and possible solutions. A public seminar ...

Recommended for you

Many tongues, one voice, one common ambition

3 hours ago

There is much need to develop energy efficient solutions for residential buildings in Europe. The EU-funded project, MeeFS, due to be completed by the end of 2015, is developing an innovative multifunctional and energy efficient ...

Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

4 hours ago

(AP)—American electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. is teaming up with Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. to build a battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. expected to create 6,500 jobs.

Simulation models optimize water power

5 hours ago

The Columbia River basin in the Pacific Northwest offers great potential for water power; hydroelectric power stations there generate over 20 000 megawatts already. Now a simulation model will help optimize the operation ...

Charging electric cars efficiently inductive

5 hours ago

We already charge our toothbrushes and cellphones using contactless technology. Researchers have developed a particularly efficient and cost-effective method that means electric cars could soon follow suit.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

shawnhcorey
5 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2011
Smart meters will have little impact on electricity usage because the time between the usage and reporting is too long. To have a significant effect, reporting has to be almost instantaneous.