Taking Control of the Heat


Last week, temperatures soared into the triple digits, reaching record highs for the Twin Cities. After a wicked winter, I actually welcomed the heat with open arms. That is, until the temperature inside my house hit a steamy 86 degrees – even with curtains closed and fans circulating. And while I pride myself on keeping an energy efficient – and comfortable – home, I was in a bit of a pickle.

With the fans not cutting it and no central air on which to rely, my only other option to beat the heat was a lone window air conditioning unit. I sat on my couch for several minutes, contemplating my (limited) options. Do I flip the switch and let the cool air rush in, or do I tough it out?

As sweat ran down my face in a steady stream, I caved. I also had to think of my three young kids – it was simply too hot not to do anything. And while the cool air felt good, all I could think about was how much my decision was going to cost me.

But is it odd to think that way? Can’t I just sit back and enjoy the comfort of the cooler air without worrying about the impact my air conditioner was having on my electric bill?

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

The Nielsen Company conducted a recent survey that found nearly half of residential electricity customers would be willing to pay for access to smart meter usage date, such as hourly energy usage and consumption data on individual appliances – e.g. an air conditioning unit.

Other survey findings revealed that 15 percent of the population would pay up to $10 a month for “smart meter” data, an indication of just how valuable consumers believe this kind of information can be.

I, for one, agree this information is a valuable asset. And while I’m not sure how much extra I’d be willing to pay for this kind of information, I do know I would put it to good use. In this instance, it may not have changed my decision to use my air conditioner. But at least I would be armed with the information for use in the future.

So tell me, would you pay for a “smart meter” service? If so, how often do you think you would use it?

Article by Tim Laughlin, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.



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