A 16% monthly reduction in energy costs, resulting in an average savings of $20 per month. This is data that will make any homeowner perk up; but builders can also use it to their advantage during the sale of a home.

These are the results of home energy efficiency program that was piloted this past Spring in more than 3,900 military family homes under Balfour Beatty Communities’ Navy Southeast Region Military Housing Privatization Project. Part of the Smart Grid Data Access Award from the DOE (Dept. of Energy), www.doe.gov, Washington, D.C., the “Switch 4 Good” program was developed to help residents in military housing better manage their energy use by providing them with energy management.

Balfour Beatty Communities LLC, a subsidiary of Balfour Beatty Capital Group Inc., www.balfourbeattycommunities.com, Newtown Square, Pa., was selected by the DOE for the project, which including the use of smart meters and three personalized sets of conservation tools. The Switch 4 Good program combined digital coaching and smart meter data to help residents conserve energy and save on their electric bills.

Tabitha Crawford, senior vice president of sustainability and innovation, Balfour Beatty Investments, says the program, which also included a cloud-based energy-management platform, demonstrates using smart meter data to provide personalized habit cues for residents results in reduced energy consumption, without retrofits.

Crawford continues, saying, “… The unique combination of personalized, near realtime energy consumption data and simultaneous behavior change coaching distinguishes the program. Participating homes had access to a Web portal showing personalized smart meter data (daily, hourly), supplemented by a system of multi-weekly energy savings prompts delivered to the home occupants via text message, Twitter, Facebook, and other digital media. Collective energy savings were also tracked for entire neighborhoods and awards were given as the communities achieved various benchmarks.”

After analyzing the data from the pilot program, the following assessments have been made:

  • An average of 16% in monthly energy savings when compared to energy consumption of non-participating like homes in the area
  • On average, the 3,900 homes participating have collectively reduced monthly energy consumption by 90,000 kWh within a few months.

Could the data speak to a larger trend in homebuilding? Builders looking for that killer upsell might give smart meters another look. While in the past these high-tech amenities may have seemed like just another bell and whistle, so to speak, the ability to attach real savings data could give builders an attractive option to include in their homes.

As the home becomes a more connected environment, the thought in the past was the structure would need to become wired and more automated. The pilot from Balfour Beatty proves the automated home can come more in a retrofit manner.