Responding to a changing world


By Antti Aumo


Whereas load management helps utilities optimise electricity peaks, a new in-home device now brings the power of optimisation into the home – and places individual energy management straight into the hands of the consumer.

The small, in-home device, ecoMeter, has been designed to meet the needs of global change: It promotes the concept of energy efficiency at the grassroots level, thereby contributing to reducing humanity’s footprint on the environment – a must against the backdrop of global climate change.

Moreover, ecoMeter enables utilities to promote demand response, which refers to a utility’s ability to request consumers to reduce their consumption at critical times or in response to market prices.

Finally, as ecoMeter enables individuals to monitor their energy consumption in the home, they are able to manage their consumption and make financial savings accordingly – important against a backdrop of increasing global energy prices.

The first consumer application in Landis+Gyr’s advanced metering management solution portfolio, ecoMeter increases environmental consciousness by linking energy consumption to greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption to resource scarcity.

Consumers can get real time information about their electricity, gas and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions as well as current tariff rates/demand from their personalised ecoMeter device.

For utilities, the benefits are clear: ecoMeter enables them to set up direct communication channels to their consumers for the first time, thereby enabling them to monitor consumer behaviour and develop new ways to deal with peak demand management.

ecoMeter was developed by the Landis+Gyr Group company in Australia. Australian South East Water utility carried out a 12-month trial period of the device. The trial aimed at reducing water, electricity and gas consumption, and all resulting greenhouse gas emissions, in 50 households by showing consumers their real time consumption. Results showed that there has been a reduction of 30 percent in peak rate demand and customers now connect behaviour with consumption levels.

ecoMeter was awarded the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (AEEMA) 2006 Excellence Award for Best New Product in the ICT/Software category. The first pilot installation also received an Energy and Water Green Globe Award from the Energy Ministry of New South Wales.

Landis+Gyr is currently preparing for the introduction of ecoMeter in Europe. This follows market introduction in the US, as well as in the UK, where a White Paper released by the Department of Trade and Industry in May 2007 set out criteria to increase energy efficiency. This includes providing in-home displays for all meters replaced after 2008. Furthermore, domestic smart meters with displays are to be deployed over a ten year timeframe.

Andreas Umbach, President and CEO of Landis+Gyr, says that governments and regulators should reassess utility regulation laws, as well as invest in infrastructure and new pricing models. He adds that utilities can benefit from energy efficiency as it helps streamline processes, increase competitiveness and improve relationships with customers.

Landis+Gyr is currently developing the next generation in its smart metering portfolio. AIM Aware is a concept product that combines existing active information management (AIM) technologies and, like ecoMeter, brings awareness to the end consumer. By using a USB stick (used already for local readings of E120Gi, E120i, E120LiME and forthcoming E120GiME-meters) on a home computer or laptop, AIM Aware offers on-line communication between the meter and the AIM Aware software running on the laptop.

AIM Aware supplies the consumer with energy and environmental efficiency data in an easy to understand manner thanks to an Internet connection to the utility’s AIM system. The concept also enables the consumer to make historical and reference consumer group comparisons. For example, consumers can compare their energy consumption with that of their neighbour, community, or entire city. Furthermore, AIM Aware has an instant messaging facility that enables the utility to send information to the consumer.

Landis+Gyr covers the entire utility metering value chain from in-house customer applications and energy meters to data management and seamless IT integration. In 2006, Enermet, Landis+Gyr and meter2cash were brought together to create one pan-European advanced metering and load management company. Globally, the Landis+Gyr Group is further strengthened by Cellnet+Hunt and Ampy.

The tagline “manage energy better” tells the story of the new Landis+Gyr. It stresses the importance of responsible energy use against the backdrop of global climate change, and it communicates the fact that the Group enables utilities to manage energy better.