Direct Energy Program Drives Conservation Among Homeowners

2008-03-31 04:00:00

Direct Energy Program Drives Conservation Among Homeowners

TORONTO, ONTARIO–( EMWNews – March 31, 2008) – Participants in an energy conservation project in Milton, Ontario conserved almost seven per cent more electricity compared to their neighbours during peak hours – when conservation is needed most – with the help of an easy-to-use, web-based monitoring system.

The residents are part of the Direct Energy Smart Home Energy Conservation Program and research project, which provided them with a high-tech conservation kit to help change their energy consumption habits. Preliminary results of the program were shared at the Electric Utility Consultants Inc. (EUCI) SmartGrid conference on Friday, March 28.

“This system allows me to manage my hourly energy consumption, which has translated into a 15 per cent energy savings year over year. This savings is easy to see with the graphing capabilities of the website,” says Eric Abadie, a participant in the program. “It helps the environment, reduces the bottom line on my energy bills and gives me one more gadget to play with!”

While the pilot was done with a small group of Milton residents, the potential for major impact through similar programs is quickly evident. For example, preliminary findings show that participants conserved 3.4 per cent overall compared to other residents in the area. If every home in Ontario were able to save the same amount of electricity, over the course of a year the provincial load would be reduced by almost double the annual power production of the Atikokan Coal Generating Station, or about 1.7 million MWh.

“This program shows that with access to real-time information about energy consumption, consumers can easily reduce their environmental footprint,” says Clinton Roeder, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Direct Energy. “The results we’re seeing at this early stage are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what could be achieved with real-time pricing for electricity and enabling more system features to give consumers even more control over their energy usage.”

Effects on the environment can be observed most dramatically at peak energy usage times. If all Ontario consumers followed Milton’s example and cut their electricity usage during peak times by 6.7 per cent, the province would see its load reduced by roughly 670,000 MWh. This reduction would eliminate 520,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to taking 100,000 cars off the road for a year.

Over a three-month period, energy usage by 151 program participants was compared year-over-year with a control group of the same size who didn’t receive the conservation kit. Although energy usage in both groups increased due to a colder winter, the sample group’s increase was consistently less than that of their neighbours.

Participants were able to monitor energy usage in real-time, and remotely control their home’s lighting and appliances with one easy-to-use web interface. With better information about the way they used energy, consumers developed new ‘greener’ habits by shifting energy patterns, using less during peak periods and overall. The program was developed in collaboration between Direct Energy, Milton Hydro and Bell with independent analysis by the University of Waterloo.

Developed by Bell, the Smart Home Energy Conservation Solution is the most comprehensive conservation demand management system available. The independent analysis by researchers at the University of Waterloo is being used to help generate new ideas for even more effective conservation programs in the future.

“The Smart Home Energy Conservation Solution puts the power of energy conservation into the hands of the user and small changes make big differences,” says Blair Makin, VP Technology and Market Development for Bell Enterprise Group. He added, “By bringing together utilities, businesses and consumers we all have the opportunity to do our part to conserve energy.”

“The technology is both informative and empowering.’ says Professor Ian Rowlands, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo and lead researcher on the project. “Given this is a pilot project, we’re very encouraged by the preliminary results. There is conceivably more potential for expansion.”

About Direct Energy

Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related services providers with over 5 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in Texas, the northeastern United States and across Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, visit www.directenergy.com.

About Milton Hydro

Milton Hydro Distribution Inc., owned by the Town of Milton, currently supplies electricity to over 21,000 residential and business customers through its distribution network. The Town of Milton is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada and has been designated by the Ontario government as a priority location for the installation of smart metering. Milton Hydro plans to have a smart meter on every home and business by the end of 2008. For more information on Milton Hydro, please call 905-876-4611 or visit www.miltonhydro.com

About Bell

Bell is Canada’s largest communications company, providing consumers with solutions to all their communications needs, including telephone services, wireless communications, high-speed Internet, digital television and voice over IP. Bell also offers integrated information and communications technology (ICT) services to businesses and governments, and is the Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO) to small and medium businesses (SMBs). Bell is proud to be a Premier National Partner and the exclusive Communications Partner to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. For information on Bell’s products and services, please visit www.bell.ca. For corporate information on BCE, please visit www.bce.ca.

For more information, please contact

Direct Energy
Lisa Frizzell
(403) 290-6835
Email: lisa.frizzell@directenergy.com
Website: www.directenergy.com

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