29 Jun 2016

Confusion over smart technology

8:45 am on 29 June 2016

New Zealanders do not have much confidence or knowledge when it comes to using smart technology to cut their electricity bills, according to new research.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The findings - which came in three studies carried out by Otago University's Centre for Sustainability - found less than 10 percent of respondents were very familiar with smart appliances, smart light bulbs, smart thermostats and smart electric wall plugs.

Far greater numbers were completely unaware of these things, and ownership of these devices was very low, despite enthusiastic embracing of new telecommunications technology in this country.

A few people were even unsure as to whether they even owned the appliances and devices or not.

The studies were carried out for the Smart Grid Forum, an industry body which aimed to use new technology to reduce the need for expensive grid investment.

The survey found many people did not know what technology was available. They were also unsure about where to buy them, thought they would be too expensive, too difficult to install or not effective enough.

The researchers found one case where a man was making full use of this technology but stepped back when his wife told him he was spending too much time working with his gadgets and was not getting out enough.

Lead author of the reports, Rebecca Ford, said many people just did not know enough about these products.

"Forty percent of people thought information was not readily available for them, and even more - 50 percent - would not even know where to buy them," she said.

She said it might make sense to help people to figure out how to get these things into people's homes and get them working.

Smart Grid Forum convenor John Hancock said these reports would be used as a basis for further action to promote smart technology, once the forum members had analysed them properly.

Mr Hancock said the survey was self selecting, but added that this made the problem worse because only those people who were aware this technology was available in the first place were interested in responding to it.

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