A week ago, Jim Sepe began playing around with his appliances — turning up the air conditioner, setting the Jacuzzi at a lower temperature and running the microwave to watch numbers tick up and down on a digital photo frame he keeps on his kitchen countertop.
“It’s really fun,” Sepe said. “I learned that if I did this or that, or turned my Jacuzzi down a few degrees, I was saving money.”
Sepe is a guinea pig for a new project cooked up by a Burbank businessman, Glendale Water & Power and Ceiva, a digital frame maker, that displays electricity and water usage on a small frame to get people to engage with the smart grid technology the city has spent $20 million on installing.
Glendale was the first city in the nation to get federal stimulus money for installing smart grid technology in March.
Utility providers throughout the country have spent millions on smart grid technology, but are having trouble getting customers to take advantage of it. Smart meters allow customers to track their energy use online and change their behavior in order to save money. But only works if people pay attention.