As rollouts of smart grid systems and smart meters have accelerated in the United States, utilities have struggled to effectively communicate the benefits of these technologies for consumers. Convincing end-users to embrace this technology, by communicating the possibilities for greater energy management and conservation it enables, is critical to the long-term success of utility smart grid programs. According to a recent consumer survey from Navigant Research, favorable attitudes toward the concept of the smart grid in general, and toward smart meters in particular, increased noticeably in 2012.

Forty-one percent of the consumers surveyed have a “favorable” or “very favorable” attitude toward smart grid and smart meters, according to the survey. That is an increase of ten percentage points over the findings from Navigant Research’s 2011 survey.

“Less than ten percent of the respondents have an unfavorable opinion of smart grids and smart meters, which is an encouraging sign for utilities and policymakers,” says Neil Strother, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “However, utilities still have a long way to go in persuading a majority of their customers that they should approach these technologies with enthusiasm.”

Consumer attitudes toward the smart grid vary in direct proportion to educational attainment and income level, the survey found. Nearly half of the respondents with graduate degrees have favorable opinions, while about 26 percent of those with only a high school degree showed positive responses. Similarly, more than 45 percent of people earning at least $75,000 have positive opinions of smart grids and smart meters.