Creating a new clean and green energy grid doesn’t just require wind mills and solar panels, it also requires smart gird technology. Smart gird is a buzzword thrown around a lot lately, but it really boils down to using real time data to manage the supply and demand of electricity as efficiently as possible. One of the key aspects of smart grid is getting electric customers, both business and homeowners, to become more aware of how much energy they use and when.
Unfortunately in our hyper-digitized world we are bombarded with information from every direction, so how exactly do you keep someone’s interest in monitoring and reducing their energy use? One way is to integrate it into an existing platform millions of people access every day, or in some cases every 15 minutes. Facebook has announced it will be launching a “social energy” application that will allow you to compare your monthly electricity use with your friends, others in your neighborhood, and people with similar sized houses.
For those who like to show off how great of a job they do living sustainably this would be a good tool to do it. Also it’s a nice way to track if you are doing a good job compared to others or could be doing more. The application would ask for permission to automatically pull monthly energy use from you utility bill if your local utility company is partnering, and if not you could manually enter the data each month to keep track.
Interestingly enough our local electric utility in South Jersey, Atlantic City Electric, actually already lets you compare your use to other homes of similar size in their online billing feature. So this would really just allow you to share your electricity reducing efforts with your online social network, while also allowing you to compare yourself with actual people instead of just a statistical average.
While this may not be a revolution in smart grid technology, what it hopefully can accomplish is making everyone more conscious of their electric use. Maybe after using applications such as this everyone will be more willing to use real time smart grid applications on a daily basis. Also public accountability can be a strong motivating factor. Perhaps in a few years from now you’ll be less likely to crank up the air conditioning when nobody is home if all your friends will see that your electric use is always spiking during the middle of day.
If saving money and reducing your carbon footprint isn’t enough motivation for people to manage their electricity use better maybe peer pressure on Facebook can be.