Fort Collins, Colo., is on track to become the first city in the United States to use Energy Engage Mobile, a new Web-based smartphone application for monitoring electricity consumption in near real time. The app displays current energy use, current cost of energy, the projected bill for the current month and the resulting savings—or extra costs—as compared to the previous month. It also offers energy-saving tips, options for paying bills immediately online and information about when power outages will be fixed.
Energy Engage Mobile was developed by Siemens Technology-to-Business Center and the company’s US subsidiary eMeter. It is a mobile version of eMeter’s Energy Engage Web portal, which is being used by several US power suppliers to keep their grid customers informed about their electricity use.
The new app will help to change utility customers’ behavior, according to an article on the Siemens website. The company cites a study published in 2012 by economist Hunt Allcott from New York University and psychologist Todd Rogers from Harvard University, which showed that consumers who received a monthly electricity bill that displayed their daily power consumption and compared it to that of their neighbors significantly reduced their electricity use.
Unfortunately, the observed effect only lasted for a few days after they received the bills. However, if consumers continued to receive such bills over a long period of time, their energy demand habits eventually changed permanently, with the savings achieved ranging from one to five percent. An app that updates information regarding electricity use in near real time has the same effect, Siemens says.
The Energy Engage portal and the app use EnergyIP software from eMeter as a platform. The platform enables the control center to access and analyze demand data from electricity and water meters. This data used to be recorded hourly, summarized at eight-hour intervals and made available the following day for customers to view via their online accounts. With the Energy Engage portal and the app, electricity demand data is now sent to the power supplier every 15 minutes and then forwarded to customer accounts shortly thereafter.
Fort Collins has been using the Energy Engage Web portal since June 2014. The mobile app is a centerpiece of the city’s smart grid plans.
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