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Your Green Button - A New Way to Save Money on Your Electric Bill

Updated on May 2, 2012
Smart Meter | image credit: BGE
Smart Meter | image credit: BGE

Have you ever heard of the "Green Button"?

If you have not, you soon will.

It's an important step in the evolution of home energy conservation and it's being promoted by industry and government in the U.S.

On a broader scale it is part of the Smart Grid effort to transform the way electric power is managed.

What is the "Green Button"?

The Green Button program uses smart meters which are able to relay (almost) minute-by-minute household energy consumption to your utility. The utility makes these data available to you. It also uses the data in their own utility business for optimum energy management. service response in the event of power outages, automatic meter reading and billing, and other applications.

Green Button is an initiative of the President’s energy program. It gives consumers a tool they need to save money and energy.

Four utilities and suppliers have implemented Green Button. If you are a customer you can retried your home's (almost) minute-by-minute electric usage data in a secure format. You are able to analyze your data with applications that show you how to save electricity and money on your electric bill.

As of April 1, 2012 thirteen utilities and suppliers have adopted Green Button and are committed to its implementation.

Rollout of the Green Button program

Like many trends in the U.S. which start on the west coast then spread across the nation, the Green Button program program of PG&E has already rolled out. On the east coast BGE will implement Green Button following its smart meter replacement program.

Let's take a look at PG&E's Green Button Program

In December 2011 PGE launched its a PG&E Green Button Program. It said "(PG&E) is pleased to be among the first utilities in the country to empower customers with their own data in a portable format never before available. Making detailed energy usage information available in a standardized file format encourages awareness of energy use as well as innovation among third parties for new customer-focused applications

If you're a PG&E customer with a smart meter installed on your home, you can access your Green Button data. First you must establish your own My Energy account on PGE's secure website. After you log on click on My Usage, then click the Green Button, specify the file format you want and download your data. PGE will not provide your data to any third party.

What about BGE's Green Button program?

In a press release in March 2012, BGE announced its commitment to a BGE Green Button program.

"This spring (2012), BGE will begin the installation of 2 million smart meters and meter devices across BGE’s Central Maryland service territory. A few months after the first meters are installed, BGE will launch an online tool that will allow customers to view their energy usage patterns in near real time – within 24 hours. The online tool will also provide personalized energy usage tips, neighborhood usage comparisons and eventually allow customers to compare pricing programs. BGE plans to incorporate the Green Button concept into its online tool so that its customers can view and download their information in the same format as customers of participating utilities and energy companies across the country."

Community meetings are now underway explaining the Smart Meter program to residents.

How do you use your Green Button Data?

Unless you're good at analyzing your own detailed data, you'll need an "app" to help you.

To encourage creative Green Button apps that are most effective in showing you how to save energy, the U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring a Green Button contest among developers with cash prizes for the winners:

"The U.S. Energy Department’s Apps for Energy is offering $100,000 to software developers for the best new apps that help utility customers make the most of their Green Button electricity usage data."

Have you heard of the Green Button program?

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    • John Dove profile image

      John Dove 5 years ago

      Hey Phil Plasma -- We're watching Green Button roll out here in Mid-Atlantic, USA. By the way, Quebec is a great city. We stayed there for a week a number of years ago.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I hadn't heard about the Green Button program, but, living in Canada, it isn't available to me. Here in Quebec they have started to introduce smart meters, but I don't have one yet. I'm looking forward to be being better able to see my electricity consumption.

      Great hub to spread and explain the news.