Smart Grid Technology? Most of Us Don't Have a Clue

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailSmart grid technology lets every home become a power generator as well as a power consumer by measuring the power flowing both directions and compensating customers for their contribution. Through the smart grid, consumers can monitor and tailor their usage to be more efficient. That does seem smart.

A recent survey, however, found that only 43 percent of Americans know what smart grid technology is, and of those, 70 percent don’t really understand how it works. The survey, conducted on behalf of Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity International by the NAHB Research Center, also found that only 35 percent of the respondents believe their community somewhat understands smart grid technology and 46 percent don’t think their community understands the technology at all. Those who are aware of smart grid technology have learned about it from the internet (51 percent), television/radio (46 percent) and magazines/periodicals (28 percent).

'These survey findings suggest that there needs to be greater emphasis on smart grid education among all of us, which would encourage more green building,' said Warwick Stirling, global director of energy and sustainability for Whirlpool Corporation, which has committed to make all of its appliances smart grid-compatible by the end of 2015.

In January, a 2011 State of the Consumer Report released by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) found that emphasizing cost savings and educating consumers were imperative for the smart grid to take off. Consumers want tangible benefits such as energy and cost savings, reliability, and the ability to pick and choose technologies and pricing schemes.