Smartphone, meet the Grid

From the large city of Buffalo to the small community of Watertown, 20 percent of National Grid customers living in Upstate New York are more than 60 days behind on paying their electricity bills.

Why is this?

Utilities across North America are billing customers on a monthly cycle, providing no “real time” tracking of energy consumption in the home. Consumers find out only upon receiving their monthly bill that they went $15 over the $100 they had allocated for the month’s payments — too late for many of whom don’t have the income to spare.

Consumers struggle to pay their monthly energy bill at the end of the 30 day billing cycle

Much of this dilemma arises from the daily energy demand changes in homes. Certain times of day shoot the energy demand up by tremendous amounts, namely early mornings and at night. This places enormous stress on the grid, consequently raising electricity prices during this energy “rush hour” as utilities struggle to meet the demands of consumers.

Aside from this problem with peak energy times, the underlying predicament lies in the raw amount of energy we use in our homes. Whether it’s the hours spent machine washing our clothes, the mesmerizing assortment of lights put up in every house around the holiday season, or the constant shine of our TVs playing in the background, there is no doubt about it — we’re using too much energy, and somehow, we can’t seem to slow down. The leaders of the world talk about it, the scientists talk about it, the media talks about it: it is painfully clear. But what are we doing to stop digging the grave we are so deep into? Admittedly, it’s tough — even the most diehard environmentalist will leave a bedroom light on without thinking, or machine dry clothes for the sake of time and simplicity. We all do. Saving energy around the home demands hundreds of small acts each week: unplugging Christmas lights, turning off the AC as you step out door, fixing the leaking sink…all simple, easy measures that can be taken, but that require us to constantly be alert and conscious of every single thing we do — a feat which is undeniably difficult for any normal human.

A variety of small appliances around homes contribute to our energy consumption

So what can we do to reduce, and ideally eliminate, these small but substantial wastes in energy, as well as to go further and make increased efforts in minimizing energy consumption in our homes?

Our daily habits are built up in small increments — they don’t change immediately overnight. Say, for example, that you are trying to eat healthier… going from eating daily meals of pasta, fried food, and desserts to eating only salads is drastic, and almost unfathomable. Instead, you would slowly incorporate more and more salads into your diet to make the change a bit smoother. This scenario parallels how we can change our habits regarding our daily energy use: instead of immediately cutting out the usage of hairdryers, AC, or other high energy-consuming mediums, we can take small steps each day to change our habits, such as turning the AC 1 degree warmer every week or only using a clothes dryer once a week. Changing our ways in small increments such as these will put us on a path towards sustainable and lower energy-consuming lifestyles.

Smartphone apps provide a new outlet for us to monitor our energy consumption

ENERj puts forward a bottom up approach in taking the first few steps towards transforming our consumption habits by offering an interactive, social, mobile app experience working towards decreasing energy usage and changing our daily habits. With its unique social and competitive dynamic, ENERj abstracts the complexity of energy demand response management into an accessible platform where everyone is an integral part of the solution.

What do you do to save energy on a daily basis? Let us know in the comments and share this to start a conversation. We are fortunate to live in a time when mobile apps can be used to leverage individual actions for mass scale impact. ENERj lets us do just that — join us and become part of a new kind of energy revolution.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.