More homes using devices to track their energy usage

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More homes using devices to track their energy usage

With this summer’s unusually hot weather leading to record electricity use, more households are installing smart meters to better monitor their energy consumption and lower their utility bills.

LG U+, the sole provider of Internet of Things (IoT) meters and the nation’s third-largest mobile carrier, reported Wednesday that the number of households subscribing to its meter service in August so far has jumped nearly 240 percent from July.

Until July, roughly 12,000 households were subscribing to the service, the company said.

The IoT meter gives users real-time data on energy consumption and the utility fees they can expect to pay. It also notifies users when they reach each stage of the six-tier progressive electricity billing system.

In Korea’s progressive billing system, a household pays more per unit of electricity as they use more. There are six different rates per unit that correspond to six levels of usage.

The meter by LG U+ alerts households when they approach a new tier in electricity consumption, allowing users to moderate their energy use accordingly. The meter can send a text message such as “10 days to entering the third stage, 66 kilowatt-hours left” to warn users when they are approaching the next billing tier based on their average energy use.

“Before, electricity charges could only be checked when the company sent bills, but now, electricity consumption can always be monitored via a smartphone app,” said Ahn Sung-jun, senior vice president of the IoT service division at LG U+.

“Users can cut roughly 10 percent of their energy consumption, since the meter notifies them of which progressive stage they are approaching.”

According to company data, the 10 percent energy cut can save an average of 12,000 won ($10) on monthly utility bills.

Along with the meter, LG U+ also offers an IoT plug that can further aid in managing household energy consumption. SK Telecom has a similar product as well.

The plug is an adaptor for home appliances that can control electricity running from the outlet to the appliance based on settings from a user’s smartphone. It can cut standby power when plugged-in appliances are not in use.

“Households with both the IoT energy meter and IoT plug installed saved roughly 12 percent in electricity consumption and cut 26 percent from monthly utility fees compared to the previous year, based on research from the Korea Energy Agency,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The IoT meter and plug were released last year toward the end of June, and real-time tracking of utility bill stages was only added last month.

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