Our electricity is carbon-free, so let’s use it, but how? GreenTown hosted a smart energy talk Feb. 1 with two presenters. The first, Steve Schmidt, provided some answers. The HomeIntel program run by Steve’s company can use your smart meter data, analyze your energy use, tell you if you are wasting energy – and most people are – and tell you how to stop. Even better, he will do this for free; the service costs are covered by ratepayer-funded programs designed to reduce wasteful energy use.
Here’s what you do. Go to homeintel.hea.com to sign up for a Smart Audit of your home’s energy use. The analysis doesn’t even require a home visit since it is able to understand your energy use from your smart meter data. You will then receive customized recommendations. Some may not be surprising, for example, switching to LED lights, but some may. A lot of energy is lost to phantom energy use, the power that is used when you think your electronics are switched off. HomeIntel can help with that. The program is pay-for-performance, so Steve and his team are motivated to get you to actually make some changes. That’s how they get paid!
Our second speaker was John Supp with Silicon Valley Clean Energy. Yes, these are the folks who are providing our clean electricity. John reminded us that PG&E still operates the transmission lines and still sends you the bill. Most people are fine with that arrangement, in fact less than 3% have opted out.
John asked us to imagine a future of clean electricity with no pollution from burning fossil fuels, and he assured us that it doesn’t mean we will have to suffer. Have you driven an electric car? Try it and you won’t go back. And he had plenty of other ideas. For example, when the time comes, replace your gas-fired water heater with a new heat pump water heater. More ambitiously, switch to a heat pump electric dryer, install connected thermostats, and move to induction cooking, or on-site energy storage or perhaps even a new heat pump furnace.
John also offered some fascinating insight into the changing world of renewable electricity. We are now getting so much solar in the middle of the day that supply exceeds demand. That is bad news for solar providers, but the answer is we need to shift our peak energy use to match that supply. The rates don’t reflect that reality, at least not yet. When the rates do change, we’ll be charging our new electric cars in the afternoon, not the middle of the night!