Electricity transmission and distribution network operator Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) installed smart meters to 200 customers in the borough of Coleraine between January 2012 and May 2014.
The aim of the smart meter trial, which was branded Shift & Save, was to investigate how smart meters and smart grid technology can change home energy usage patterns, particularly during peak demand periods.
79% of participants said that they would opt for a multi-rate tariff if made available by their energy supplier.
How the pilot worked
Over the first nine months, NIE collected base data from the meters.
After that the 200 participants were divided into two groups: The Test Group made up of 175 participants who were incentivised to change their electricity usage patterns; and The Control Group consisting of 25 participants who were not incentivised to change their electricity usage patterns.
During the second phase, The Test Group were encouraged to use their high-energy appliances during the low-tariff times and use minimal load at times of peak cost.
They were rewarded with a shadow tariff up to the value of GBP75, the GSGF confirmed.
Both sides were supplied with either an OWL Z-Smart, an in-home display that is backlit red, amber or green depending on high, medium or low tariff, or an OWL+USB, an IHD showing usage in kWh and energy cost in GBP and pence.
Results of the pilot
The Test Group reduced the average peak around 4-7pm by 11.6% with overall electricity usage decreased by 2.3%.
The analysis showed that participants who had the Zsmart display which had the ‘traffic lights’ feature built in, reduced the peak by 3% more than those with the standard display.
Survey feedback also suggested that participants preferred using the colours as a guide rather than actually looking at the detail of the display itself.
GSGF describes the results as “interesting and shows the power of simple and easy to understand information”.