The United Kingdom has committed to the European Union’s goal of reducing primary energy consumption of primary by 20% by 2020—the EU's so-called 20/20/20 initiative. Part of the effort to to provide the UK government and British utilities with information to gauge effective methods of influencing consumer behavior to reduce energy usage, the "Challenge North Leigh!” pilot was part of the government-sponsored Energy Demand Research Project (EDRP), a suite of large scale trials across Great Britain. It seeks to better understand how consumers react to improved information about their energy consumption over the long term.
The EDRP is testing a range of methods of providing customers with improved feedback on their energy consumption, including:
-smart electricity and gas meters;
-real-time display devices, which show energy use in pounds and pence;
-more accurate and more frequent bills;
-energy efficiency information; and
For “Challenge North Leigh!,” Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)—a Scottish-based utility providing electric service both north and south of the England/Scotland border—provided GE smart meters to the 800-home Oxfordshire community, making the 2,000 villagers some of the first in the United Kingdom to have smart meters installed in their homes. The smart meters gathered data in real-time and communicated that information back to the energy supplier. SSE was then able to present gas and electricity usage information to individual customers. This information was made available to individuals on a website, allowing them to view their energy usage and enabling them to make informed choices to reduce their electricity demand—again, according to G.E., by about 10% over three months.
The full project results have not yet been posted, but “Challenge North Leigh!” points to the potentially positive role smart meters can play in consumers' energy conservation practices.