Until recently, one of life’s certainties beside death and taxes were utility bills. For as long as anyone can remember we’ve been at the mercy of our local utility. If they decide to raise the rates or tack on additional fees, we’ve had very little or no recourse in the matter.
Times are changing.
The road to serfdom is paved with an uninformed populace. It is much easier to bilk someone when they don’t realize they are being had. Let’s take a look at an ordinary electric bill and see what it really tells us.
Today I received my bill from Georgia Power. It lists the number of service days. It shows the previous and present readings. In the last column it lists my usage in kilowatt hours, or the present reading minus the previous reading. Obviously, it includes the “total due”.
Yet nowhere on my bill does it tell me what my rate per kilowatt hour (kWh) is.
The only way to determine what my rate per kWh is, is to divide the “total due” by the “usage”. Performing this calculation informs me that I am paying $0.1299 per kWh for my electricity.
What I cannot see by looking at my bill is when I am using the most electricity. Which days of the week is my usage spiking? What time of day? I cannot tell that one day my kids left the back door open for half the day. I cannot see that one time the iron was accidentally left on all night. In short the bill only provides the most minimal information about my home’s energy consumption. Therefore, I am uninformed.
When people are informed they can make changes in their behavior. When information leads to changes in your “energy behavior” it’s like finding money on the ground.
Home energy monitoring will lead us away from being beholden to utility companies. Since 2008, Georgia Power has installed over 1 million “Smart Meters” according to their website.
Their site also says Future Smart Meter Benefits include, “Access energy usage information online – You’ll be able to better understand and monitor your own energy use”.
Customer service informed me that at this time Georgia Power has no program in place to utilize the smart meter information for monitoring household energy usage. They are using the remote feature of the new meters only to read them. So a meter reader doesn’t have to come into your yard anymore.
But even though Georgia Power does not have a program in place yet to monitor usage in real time, there are products on the market that can. In the next post we are going to take a look at some of these.