Publication Date April 20, 2017
UL is certifying new technology that enables utility customers to better understand how they use energy and water resources and can lead to lower bills.
The Green Button initiative was developed to provide consumers with data on their individual energy usage in an easy to understand format. The program comes from a 2012 White House call to action to provide electricity customers with a better understanding of how to manage energy usage. With the Green Button program, consumers can download their energy usage by clicking a literal green button on the utility providers’ websites. Armed with these details, consumers can securely and easily evaluate their energy usage and hopefully reduce costs too.In June of 2011, the White House published A Policy Framework for the 21stCentury Grid that encouraged the development and adoption of policies to help consumers “save energy, ensure privacy, and shrink bills.” The Green Button is now available for electricity, for natural gas, and for water.
The program consists of two methods for accessing data. With the Download My Data method, consumers download their energy usage by clicking a Green Button. With the Connect My Data method, consumers give other service providers access to their data. This data can be analyzed for usage and offers guidance to consumers on ways to reduce consumption and, in effect, lower their bill. Some third-party service providers suggest alternative energy measures such as wind, solar, and geo-thermal options. Some providers offer customized information about utility plans on the consumer’s computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Currently, UL, a founding member of the Green Button Alliance, is the only testing and certification organization for the Green Button program and will help to ensure the safe transfer of information between consumers and energy service providers. UL will provide certification testing for the technology, the service companies, and third-party app developers in an effort to ensure consistency with the standard,which helps secure the data to prevent personal, consumer information from being released without permission.
Green Button is available in Canada and the USA and is expected to move into other markets around the world, including Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim. The Minister of Energy in Ontario, Glenn Thibeault, is expected to mandate in 2017 that Canadian service companies adhere to Green Button standards and requirements.
“Data collected by smart energy meters create opportunities to analyze energy use, identify potential savings, customize heating and cooling activities for savings and comfort, measure energy efficiency investments, provide energy cost estimates for real estate buyers, and educate about responsible energy usage and conservation,” noted Barbara Judge, UL Consumer Technology Strategy and Business Development Manager.
As our homes, appliances, entertainment systems, thermostats, vehicles, and alarm systems become more connected and have the capability to communicate with each other, there will be a greater understanding and increased control of our individual energy and water usage. Smart devices will communicate with providers to determine the best times for a device to turn itself on and off. Our electric vehicles will be able to determine when to charge at the lowest possible cost per kilowatt hour. There is also the option of allowing utility providers the ability to control thermostats during high demand periods, which will in turn provide consumers a discount on their bills.