Ignorance is Bliss

There’s long been an argument out there that if you equipped people with “smart meters” that report their energy use in detail, they’d be surprised by what they learn and do a lot to conservative. Instead, Matthew Wald reports for the New York Times that the new meters, where installed, are leading to a lot of public anger and “Some consumers argue that the meters are logging far more kilowatt hours than they believe they are using.”

This is framed in the piece as undermining the hopes of the smart meter crowd, but I think it largely underscores the point. People can only respond rationally to the incentives that exist to conserve energy if they know how much energy they’re actually using and where and when. And it’s clear the reaction to smart meters that people actually have no idea what’s going on. Making them aware leaves an impressive.