Almost everyone agrees that saving energy is the right thing to do. Talking about it is one thing, but actually doing it is completely different.
Four utilities in Minnesota have discovered that their customers are up to the task. More important, they have learned that voluntary programs that encourage their customers to save power really do make a difference.
The utilities use a program called MyMeter, which is distributed by the St. Paul-based Accelerated Innovations. It is an online platform that enables users to view their energy usage in almost real time. They can see their usage in 15-minute increments with only about a four-hour delay. The program also gives users other information, such as outside temperatures, alerts from the utility, historical comparisons and comparisons with nearby customers. Users can also set thresholds and goals and track their progress in meeting them.
The four participating utilities are Beltrami Electric Co-op Inc., Lake Region Electric Co-op, Stearns Electric Association, and Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association. Three of the utilities have been offering MyMeter since 2010. One has been offering it since 2007.
Tracking results since the program’s inception until spring of 2013, the utilities saw savings in electricity usage for their participating customers ranging from 1.8 percent to 2.8 percent. Participation ranged from 9–16 percent of the utilities’ population.
A distinction was also made between passive and active users, based on the number of times users logged into MyMeter, and the frequency of those visits. Not surprisingly, those who were more engaged (users who logged in more times and more frequently) also saved more energy. The savings ranged from 2.5 percent per year for the least engaged to 4.09 percent for the most engaged.