TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficient Gadgets

Dec 16 2011

Smart meter data helps Houstonian cut electric use

With the help of data from his smart meter, local resident Mike Butler cut his electricity use by 36 percent this summer to become the Houston-area’s Biggest Energy Saver.

During the two-month Biggest Energy Saver consumer skill contest, registered participants competed by using smart meter data to reduce their electricity consumption and demonstrate how those reductions can be sustained over time.

“As Texas made history this summer with record-breaking heat, Mike and our other winners significantly reduced their energy consumption,” said Kenny Mercado, CenterPoint Energy senior vice president responsible for smart grid technology. “Their efforts demonstrate how using smart meters and performing simple, energy-saving measures can make an impact.”

The Houston-area grand prize winner used an in-home energy monitor and the Smart Meter Texas Portal to track his overall electric usage, helping him manage the use of certain appliances and his air conditioning system. The portal shows consumers their electricity use in 15-minute intervals to help them manage their consumption.

“My wife and I made simple behavioral changes to win the contest,” said Butler. “In addition to learning how to program our air conditioner’s thermostat so it will turn up when we weren’t home, I identified power hogs like leaving my laptops charging all the time or keeping them on sleep mode. I enlisted our apartment complex management to tune up our air conditioner and replace door and window seals and I checked my statistics weekly on SmartMeterTexas.com to verify the impact of these efforts.”

On behalf of contest sponsor Grid 21, CenterPoint Energy’s electric business presented Butler with a 2011 Chevy Volt, a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle. The company is also presenting a full kitchen suite of GE Profile smart appliances to the competition’s first prize winner, a GE Profile front load washer/electric dryer pair to the second prize winner and GE In-Home Network suites to five third prize winners.

Category Name and Location Prize
Grand Prize Mike Butler
Houston, Texas
2011 GM Volt electric vehicle
First Prize Sally Andrews
Houston, Texas
Suite of GE Profile Appliances
Second Prize Phillip Newsum
Humble, Texas
GE Energy-Star Front Load Home Laundry pair

Biggest Energy Saver campaign results included:

• The top 10 percent of contest entrants in the CenterPoint Energy service area saved, on average, 20.7 percent of electric power compared to same time period in 2010.
• The campaign, which was the largest of its kind in the U.S., prompted 6,126 Texas residents in the CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric and Oncor service areas to register their smart meters with the Smart Meter Texas Portal, almost three times as many as during the same period last year
• Nearly 30,000 people visited the BiggestEnergySaver.com website and blog to learn about smart meters and get energy efficiency tips.
• Overall, the top 10 percent of Houston-area contest participants saved more than 12,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity during August and September.

Sixteen finalists were selected from the CenterPoint Energy electric service territory based on the greatest percentage decrease in electricity usage from August 1, 2011, through September 30, 2011, and a comparable time period in 2010. Finalists provided a short summary of the steps and tools they used to achieve their energy savings. Finalist summaries were judged by an independent panel of energy experts based on criteria like sustainability and ease of duplication by others of their stated electricity saving measures.

The Biggest Energy Saver campaign was designed to showcase the power of smart meter data. The Biggest Energy Saver campaign’s contests and giveaways are sponsored by Grid 21, a non-profit organization committed to engaging electricity consumers in using a new generation of tools and technologies to better manage their electricity consumption. CenterPoint Energy; along with Oncor, a north Texas electric utility; technology partners Itron and Landis+Gyr; collaborator IBM; and prize sponsors GE and Tendril all helped create the inaugural Biggest Energy Saver campaign. Energy efficiency tips and other helpful information will remain on BiggestEnergySaver.com throughout the year.

CenterPoint Energy is a leader in the deployment of smart meters and intelligent grid technology. The company began deploying smart meters in 2009 and accelerated the deployment after receiving a $200 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. A portion of the grant is also funding the implementation of intelligent grid technology in central Houston, which will be completed by year-end 2013 to improve power reliability for more than 500,000 consumers.

CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. Assets total nearly $21 billion. With about 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. For more information, visit the website at www.CenterPointEnergy.com.

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