Keen techno watchers cannot fail to have noticed the glut of new home management products, from displays and web-based dashboards to apps for smart phones for control in the home and on the move. Yes, the era of the home area network (HAN) is upon us and energy management, facilitated by AMI, must be a key element of this.
With this in mind this issue has a strong focus on home energy management, highlighting among other issues the important role of feedback to customers on their energy use in achieving savings and some of the ways that this feedback can most effectively be presented. Key is that feedback doesn’t have to be “boring” and that there are “fun” ways of presenting information that engage consumers, at least on the relatively short term scale of months to a few years.
Much of the argument for the rollout of AMI is premised on its ability to facilitate improved energy management and achieve energy savings but clearly these will be limited without full HAN connectivity and without effective feedback to consumers. Thus the question is at what level AMI, and by extension the utility, interfaces with the HAN.
The answer, according to a recent poll on smart-energy.com, is that around three quarters of respondents are of the opinion that utilities should be taking the onus in providing in-home displays or other HAN devices to realise the benefits of smart metering.
However, this raises a number of key issues for utilities. For one, to start thinking of providing, for example, previously unplanned in-home displays will impact on the business case for their rollout. And secondly, even if the consumer acquires the HAN and in-home display independently there is a good chance that the utility will be looked to for support, necessitating a strategy, with further potential cost implications, for responding.
These are thorny questions but in reality they represent the next phase in this fast evolving – and always exciting – business.
Jonathan Spencer Jones