GE Energy smart meters are helping prove the value of a smart grid in the United Kingdom as part of a government-sponsored Energy Demand Research Project (EDRP). GE is committed to assisting the U.K. government meet an objective to have smart meters in every home by 2020.

Using smart meters as information collection and reporting devices, the EDRP study tracks energy use by time of day. The in-depth research is uncovering the effects of various savings strategies on household energy consumption. The strategies include: reporting consumption to households via a visual display, reporting consumption on the household’s TV screen, making consumption information available via the Internet, using alarms that go off when consumers reach certain consumption levels, tariff rewards for reducing overall energy consumption and lower rates for consumers who move energy consumption to “off peak” hours, for example, running a dishwasher at night.

“As the test progresses, we are learning about consumer behavior and how smart meter technology can help save on energy bills,” said Andrew Monks, EDRP program manager at Scottish and Southern Energy. “Thanks to the help of GE technology and GE engineers, we will be able to plan for a more efficient, cleaner energy future across the United Kingdom.”

During the study, officials will determine the ideal technology deployment strategy to maximize cost and energy savings with U.K. power users.

The trial uses state-of-the-art ZigBee communication protocol, which is becoming an accepted standard for home automation. It delivers full, multi-way communications between consumers, meters and a centralized information storage server, demonstrating the communications capabilities of advanced GE metering without investing in specialized communications systems.

The EDRP study also is serving as a platform to promote energy-saving awareness and the potential benefits of smart consumption to citizens across the United Kingdom. Homes in the trial are located in North Leigh in Oxfordshire.