Would you turn out some lights or delay using an electric appliance if a monitor in the kitchen kept you informed every four seconds about the cost of electricity being consumed?
In an experiment sponsored by Potomac Electric Power Co. and the Energy Research and Development Administration, 70 homes in the Washington area are being equipped with a special device that may provide an answer.
The instrument is called a Fitch "energy monitor" and was developed by R. B. Fitch, a North Carolina builder. The device provides digital readings of the cost-per-hour of electricity being used at any time of the day.
A spokesman for Pepco said instruments will be placed in 70 houses selected from a cross-section of the firm's service area in the District and Maryland. In addition to providing electricity costs, the device shows the time of day in alternating displays.
Electricity consumption in homes equipped with Fitch monitors will be compared with another group of homes of comparable size and location. Experts from Princeton University will study the results.
Pepco and ERDA are sharing costs of the experiment, said to be the first of its kind in the nation. The utility will spend about $7,000 to install the devices, which were purchased by ERDA for about $75 apiece.
On the drawing boards at Pepco are several other experiments in energy conservation including devices to control residential use of major appliances; use of radio signals to control air conditioners and water heaters; and use of electric vehicle chargers during off-peak hours.