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What's a smart meter? A quarter of consumers don't know

GE Energy says it has been conducting surveys to gauge public perceptions about the smart grid. In the latest one, a majority of Americans, 79%, say they would adjust their energy consumption habits and behaviors in the short term to effect change long term.

Also, 72% believe that how they generate and use energy today could actually harm the economic growth of the country.But perhaps worries about using energy stem from a lack of knowledge about where it is really going. More than a quarter, 27%, of the consumers who do not currently embrace smart grid technologies admit that they don’t understand the benefits of smart meters or smart grids.

GE’s telephone survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. consumers. A majority, 70%, agreed that they would prefer that their power company invest in current infrastructure to make it more efficient rather than build new power-generating facilities. They also believe these improvements to the grid would lead to economic growth opportunities.

GE says some of the other primary motivators for consumers’ smart grid support include: saving money (95%); increased control over energy bills (90%); making a difference for children or grandchildren (88%); reducing the number of power outages (86%); and environmental concerns (85%).

Not everybody is a believer. Ten percent of those polled think smart grid technology could lead to a rise in costs (62% of the 10%) and potential privacy and security risks (61% of the 10%).

A similar GE survey conducted in the U.S. in March helped underscore the need for more consumer awareness, with 79% of respondents in the March poll saying they are still not familiar with the term “smart grid.” A sister survey in Australia had similar results.

GE smart grid report:

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