What's a smart meter? A quarter of consumers don't know

June 25, 2010
Surveys to gauge public perceptions about the smart grid show many consumers don’t understand the benefits of smart meters or smart grids.

GE Energy says it has been conducting surveys to gauge public perceptions about the smart grid. In the latest one, a majority of Americans, 79%, say they would adjust their energy consumption habits and behaviors in the short term to effect change long term.

Also, 72% believe that how they generate and use energy today could actually harm the economic growth of the country.But perhaps worries about using energy stem from a lack of knowledge about where it is really going. More than a quarter, 27%, of the consumers who do not currently embrace smart grid technologies admit that they don’t understand the benefits of smart meters or smart grids.

GE’s telephone survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. consumers. A majority, 70%, agreed that they would prefer that their power company invest in current infrastructure to make it more efficient rather than build new power-generating facilities. They also believe these improvements to the grid would lead to economic growth opportunities.

GE says some of the other primary motivators for consumers’ smart grid support include: saving money (95%); increased control over energy bills (90%); making a difference for children or grandchildren (88%); reducing the number of power outages (86%); and environmental concerns (85%).

Not everybody is a believer. Ten percent of those polled think smart grid technology could lead to a rise in costs (62% of the 10%) and potential privacy and security risks (61% of the 10%).

A similar GE survey conducted in the U.S. in March helped underscore the need for more consumer awareness, with 79% of respondents in the March poll saying they are still not familiar with the term “smart grid.” A sister survey in Australia had similar results.

GE smart grid report: http://www.gereports.com/smart-grid-survey-majority-says-inaction-harms-growth/

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