Smart Grid - Only Innovation and Competition Will Bring Consumer Engagement
Today we are beginning to implement the projects called Smart Grid, this project has the clear objective of driving down energy consumption, influencing consumers and providing them the means to do so. To understand how to successfully achieve this change is necessary to use a field of research -- Psychology -- that lifts the veil on the concept of motivation and apply it to energy conservation. Only the information is not sufficient to change behavior, because people have to be motivated to change. Motivation is defined as a process that causes direct excitation, and persistence of behavior. To motivate the information disclosed must meet these conditions, and one of the most powerful techniques to cause excitement is to personalize the information.
The implementation of new technologies, including smart meters and the taking regulate automatic readings of energy consumption and send them to via a telecommunications network, promises to bring a new level of customization for the home. The idea is that each smart meter is capable of providing near real-time information on energy consumption in a readily comprehensible manner. It is hoped this will encourage consumers to take greater control over their energy consumption, carbon emissions and energy costs.
But history suggests that only the information is not enough, consumers should be continuously involved in this process.
The provision of feedback is so powerful because it meets the persistence condition of motivation. In other words, if consumers are repeatedly reminded of how they are performing, then the message is kept alive. However, for consumers to be motivated to participate, they must also believe that the result of their behavior -- their energy consumption -- explicitly linked to how they act. For example, running a dishwasher at peak times, or turn off the lights when not needed, should be explicitly linked to a reduction in energy consumption. The danger is that if the connection is lost, consumers may feel that their behavior has no impact on the result, and simply give up to participate.
What of cash? Can the promise of financial rewards alone -- predominantly accounts reduced due to lower consumption, but also in the form of lower rates for customers who are happy to relinquish some control over the runtime of their activities to motivate consumers to change their behavior? Perhaps, studies have clearly shown that the monetary reward can lead to energy savings, but unfortunately, the effect may be short-lived.
That should not surprise, not really, psychology has long championed the message that money is not a sustainable motivator, and that goes for energy conservation as well.
Whatever the approach, to succeed we need to better understand our consumers, and at the same time, the underlying message should be clear -- Smart meters alone will not cut power consumption -- only consumers can make this happen.
All market sectors where there is competition, we also have innovation, development and the consumer more aware and observant of other possibilities. In fact we will only have a Smarter Grid, when we have competition in this sector. With competition, consumer engagement will come easy, nothing better than a choice to make the proactive consumer. The competition also brings more health and vigor for the companies that are more competitive, the competition is a huge lever for creative solutions.
Changes in consumer habits are not easy, but it is possible. When the consumer can wake up one morning and think, today I'll change my energy supplier, so we really have a Smarter Grid. This is the part that Regulatory Agencies should be working now, and not creating new rules and obstacles that never protected the consumer. The area of energy is not regulated in a way that creates an incentive to invest in energy-saving technologies.
By bringing the competition to this sector, new technologies and tools will be created by the market and to attract create consumer loyalty, already a long time this process took place in the area of IT and Telecom. Almost every day we see the transformations that arise, and why it does not happen in the energy sector? The answer is simple, we have not still -- but certainly we still have -- innovation and competition and worse, a consumer who does not have the right to choose, is not a consumer.