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GMP tests new app to help Vt. customers save on energy bills - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

GMP tests new app to help Vt. customers save on energy bills

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

Green Mountain Power is testing out a new program in Rutland that could help Vermonters save on their energy bills.

John Valente's home is one of 24 in the Rutland area testing out Green Mountain Power's "The Smart Home" technology.

"It's been really interesting for me because I never thought about my energy usage on a daily basis before," said Valente.

The new initiative, which is two weeks into a two to three month testing phase, uses smart grid technology to allow customers to track real time power using a GMP phone app. The home start kit contains smart plugs and an Internet gateway that connects the participant's smart meter to the iPhone app.

With the new program, you can actually be anywhere in the world and control anything in your home plugged into a smart plug from the app.

Through the app, customers can also monitor energy use and turn off any items that may be using too much energy. They can also see when they use the most energy and adjust their use to try to lower their bill and save power.

"It's tough for me to estimate how much we're going to save, but I know that we are saving and that's a good thing for me," said Valente.

GMP says it's too early to have an idea how much the average customer would be able to save.

It can help customers turn off items they may have accidentally left on.

"My wife pointed out to me, she sometimes will be leaving heading to go somewhere and she'll look at me and go, 'Did I turn the curling iron off,'" said Valente.

GMP admits there are kinks at this point.

"Without Internet connectivity, the connection to the gateway and to the meter and the other smart devices would be unavailable," said Todd LaMothe, development manager at GMP.

If you are in an area without cell service, for example, you cannot access the app, unless you can connect through Wi-Fi.

Valente has noticed some issues himself.

"One day I happened to look at my energy usage and it was zero and I emailed them and said 'Was there a power outage in my neighborhood,'" said Valente.

Which is why GMP is asking for participants' feedback to refine the program before rolling it out statewide.

GMP says multiple family members can have the app and control of the home's power. Who is in charge of what is for the customer to decide.

"Well, she's in charge of everything," said Valente.

GMP says after the testing phase they will make adjustments to the program. The program and all parts are currently free, but GMP says they may need to charge for additional smart plugs in the future. Although customers can now monitor their energy use through GMP's website the overall goal is to give Vermonters more control over their energy usage by accessing it remotely.

GMP says they do not have a set date at this point for when "The Smart Home" will be available to all GMP customers.

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