A land rush in the burgeoning home energy management market.
Steven Andersen is a Fortnightly contributor based in New York.
The Prius Effect—a term that’s gained currency in sustainability circles—is shorthand for the strong link between information and behavior demonstrated by the popular Toyota hybrid.
The car was among the first to provide a real-time fuel consumption gage on the dash; step hard on the gas, watch the MPG gage go down. Coast gently along and see the savings. Drivers with the gage become aware of—even obsessive about—the way their driving habits affect consumption, and by extension, cost.
It’s a simple idea with a big efficiency impact, and it shows clearly that when consumers are given timely, meaningful information about energy use, they make different decisions. Not surprisingly, the Prius Effect often is referenced in discussions of the burgeoning home energy management market.
“Customers like information,” says Dan Delurey, executive director of the Demand Response Coordinating Committee, an energy policy non-profit. “They use that information to change the way they use electricity. Numerous pilot programs and research efforts have demonstrated the Prius Effect. It’s one of the things that’s driving this market.”
And driven it is. The last year has seen a veritable explosion in an area that previously was a nascent extension of the greater smart grid—the stuff of small pilot programs and futurists. Not anymore.