As of November 1, nearly all regulated Ontario electricity and natural gas utilities will have to provide their customers with access to their usage data.
The province said that the introduction of a new Green Button standard will allow residential and commercial customers to track their energy use, reduce bills and save money.
Energy Minister Todd Smith said, “Green Button is part of our commitment to give consumers more choice when it comes to their energy use and will enable easy and quick access to their consumption data through smartphone or computer apps so they can find customized tips to reduce energy use or switch electricity price plans to save money.”
Green Button lets customers download their natural gas and hourly electricity data in a standardized format from their utility and authorize the secure transfer of this data to applications of their choice. This real time data can then be accessed on their smartphone or computer. These apps can also analyze the energy data and provide customers with helpful energy-saving tips to reduce their energy bills and personalized retrofit options to achieve long-lasting savings.
Studies have found that easy access to energy data, which Green Button, along with smart home devices, can help consumers make informed decisions and achieve energy savings of up to 18 percent.
Ontario will become the first province in Canada to mandate the standard.
Green Button first became available in 2012, and prior to the new regulatory requirement, offering it to customers was voluntary in Ontario for electricity and natural gas utilities.
In 2015 London Hydro became the first Ontario utility to provide Green Button to their customers. Since its launch, 160,000 electricity and 106,000 water London Hydro customers have utilized Green Button.
“The Green Button standard ushers utilities into the modern technology era of open utilities, increased customer choice, and uniform energy management services for the benefit of customers,” said Vinay Sharma, CEO of London Hydro. “Indeed, Green Button will manifest the true benefits of smart meter systems for customers.”
When choosing an electricity billing structure, if a customer limits their consumption to non-peak hours, during evenings and weekends, TOU (Time of Use) pricing may be their preferred rate plan. If customers consume most of their electricity during weekday hours, tiered pricing may be a better option for them.
Energy customers in Ontario who are served by utilities that have fully implemented Green Button have access to a wide range of applications that are tailored to their individual needs. As more utilities in Ontario implement Green Button, new applications are expected to be developed to serve all types of customers, including residential, commercial, and industrial energy users.