Consumer-friendly devices used to monitor home energy consumption are only starting to gain traction. In the U.S., companies like Tendril (shown below), Greenbox and EnergyHub have pioneered systems that allow homeowners to easily view how much energy they are using and how much it is costing them. Even larger companies like Google, Microsoft, and Intel are developing energy management dashboards that will allow laymen users to view this data on their computers, phones and television screens.
But in Britain, major utilities are banding together to block legislation that would require the installation of these systems in citizens’ homes. Under the banner of the Energy Retail Association (ERA), a formidable lobbying group, British Gas, EDF Energy, npower and others are specifically protesting the enforced use of wireless, handheld devices that display exactly what homeowners’ energy is costing them in real time and that compare energy consumption of various appliances. Each device is said to cost the equivalent of $25.
The utilities’ argument is that they want to reserve the right to deliver energy consumption to their customers in ways of their choosing. For example, some have said they’d prefer to communicate it via email or mobile text messages. Others say they’d be happy to provide a similar energy management system, but would like to control the display design to best meet the needs of their customers.