Monday, December 20, 2010
Mom Central was organized the event to bring Mom Bloggers together with Silver Spring Networks and AEP Ohio to teach us more about "SmartGrid" Technology. We had a lovely family style lunch at Alana's in Columbus. They specialize in locally sourced foods. Everything was so good, the atmosphere was great, the food was delicious, and I walked away stuffed!
I'm not located in Columbus, OH, but I'm not that far away. And this program is something that will soon be making its way across Ohio. It's starting in the Columbus area, because of their demographics and how well they compare to national demographics needed for this program.
"SmartGrid" Technology, you might be wondering what in the world I'm talking about. Well, I knew very little when I first heard about the event. I did a little research and learned so much more from Silver Spring Networks and AEP Ohio. In short SmartGrid is changing the way we use, pay for, and conserve electricity.
Right now when you use electricity in your home, you are not in direct control of what you're spending. Of course you can do little things like setting the air conditioner a little higher in the summer (or turning it off), making sure lights are off in rooms that aren't occupied, and unplugging electronics that aren't in use. Those things will all help save electricity, which is good for everyone and your pocketbook too.
Electricity prices change constantly, your usage changes from day to day, and you're not billed until the end of the month. So you have no idea from month to month what your bill will be (unless you're on a budget plan or something). There are very few other things that we do this with. You wouldn't walk into a grocery store and check out without knowing your total each week, then get a bill at the end of the month. It doesn't work like that. That said, why do we do this with electricity? When you buy groceries you know what you're spending each time. And that's what AEP Ohio and Silver Spring Networks are trying to change with electricity usage. They are ultimately leaving it in the users hands.
"SmartGrid" is putting an electronic electric meter in your house essentially. You can see the electricity that you are using. "SmartGrid" is a way to address needs in this country. Most of our power plants are old. Terry Flora from AEP Ohio told us that 60% of them will need to be replaced in the next 10 years. That is a huge number. It's going to be a big not only for the companies but also affect us as users. "SmartGrid" is a way for users (like you and me) to monitor our own electricity use each day, in fact you can view it down to 15 minute increments. This will help you to quickly figure out where/when you are using electricity in your house.
Using "SmartGrid" not only helps our world, but by being aware of when/how you are using electricity you can save your family money by changing some of your habits. AEP Ohio in their pilot program has different options for users. There are different ways that you can help conserve electricity and save a few dollars.
What we will really like about "SmartGrid" when it takes off and hits a bigger market is the ability to check your electricity usage in your home, through texts, e-mails, their website, and phones as well. Not only will you be aware in real time, but the power company is also aware. It will help them to better pinpoint power outages and fix them faster. And in the future you'll be able to see how much savings you can get from controlling energy usage in appliances and even electric cars. Things that need charged can be set to charge at "off-peak" hours (like in the middle of the night).
It was wonderful to learn so much about the new "SmartGrid" technology. It's something that I'm exciting about seeing in use. And they are saying this is a thing of the future. This is where utilities are headed. In AEP's *truck* we were able to see first hand the benefits of "SmartGrid". And we also learned some other ways that we can help to conserve electricity. CFL light bulbs are a great place to start. They use less electricity and put out just as much light as regular bulbs. And many home improvement stores will dispose of them, so you don't have to worry about that. In my own experience, though, they last so much longer that it won't be a concern very often about disposal.
I could go on and on. There were so many interesting things that we learned in just a few hours. If you are interested in more information, especially if you live in Ohio, be sure to check out the website www.gridsmartohio.com.
*Disclosure: I wrote this post after attending an informational luncheon on behalf of Silver Spring Networks and Mom Central Consulting and received a gift bag and gift card as a thank you for taking the time to participate.*