Free smart home energy software
According to GreenWise, the UK’s largest independent domestic energy company First Utility said on the 19th June 2012 that it was rolling out new smart grid software to all its customers to help them reduce their energy bills. The unique new home energy management service, called my:energy, will help customers alter unsustainable domestic energy usage by enabling them to compare their energy usage against that of their neighbours.
Customers will have access to an online portal with usage information and alerts that will notify customers of excessive energy use before a pricey bill is received. First Utility, which is working with US efficiency and software firm Opower to deliver my:energy, said its 100,000 customers would start start receiving information securely online detailing how their usage compares to their neighbours, together with personalised tips on how to reduce energy consumption from today. It said it would add further functionality, including email and SMS usage alert services, over the coming months.
£1.7bn worth savings.
The new service is being launched in the UK following a pilot project undertaken by First Utility and Opower last year and new academic research, which suggests the smart grid technology has the potential to deliver £1.7 billion worth of savings to consumers over three years.
First Utility, which was the first UK energy firm to offer free smart meters to householders, said academic research conducted by the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics, found energy consumption was reduced by around five per cent over a month after consumers receive information with their bills comparing their energy usage to their neighbours. Consumption dropped still further when personalised advice was included in the bills. “First Utility’s mission has always been to change the relationship consumers have with their energy consumption by bringing innovative and game-changing services and propositions to market,” Ian McCaig, ceo of First Utility, said. Opower, which has been running a similar service in the US for a number of years, said has saved customers over $140 million across 10 million US households. “With First Utility and its launch of my:energy we are expecting to see similar results here in the UK and, most importantly, customers will be able to make insightful decisions about their energy consumption,” Alex Laskey, president and founder of Opower, said.
Concerns over costs of technology
First Utility has pledged not to charge its customers for my:energy. It hopes the new service will encourage more householders to move to First Utility. However, there are concerns that smart meters grid technology could end costing consumers more. Under plans set out by the Government, energy suppliers will have to install smart electricity and gas meters in all homes and smaller non-domestic premises by 2019, at an estimated cost of £11.7 billion. MPs and consumers groups have warned the Government that the rollout of smart meters could end up costing householders millions of pounds because energy suppliers may not pass the savings from installations onto their customers. But McCaig said: “By offering this type of insight, as well as our very competitive prices, we hope it will serve as a further driver to encourage even more people to switch to First Utility.”