Home energy management – let algorithms do the hard work


Despite a slow take-up of home energy management systems (HEMs) in the US, according to Navigant Research, US automated energy-savings company EcoFactor believes machine-to-machine adaptive control is the solution to better energy efficiency.

US consumers are interested in HEMs but not many are adopting them, said Neil Strother, principal research analyst at Navigant, during a webinar organised this week by the company.

In a study of smart thermostats, the company found that 38 per cent of respondents were interested in the devices but only 1 per cent owned one.

And when it comes to HEMs bundles with telecom providers, a third of consumers again were interested but only 1 per cent had subscribed to one.

Data not devices

Scott Hublou, co-founder and senior vice president of EcoFactor, however believes that we need to take away the “mundane management” of home energy from consumers and use M2M instead.

Mr Hublou, also speaking at the webinar, said: “Do we need to rely on consumers to manage HEMs?

“Should the home become truly smart by making energy efficient changes by machine?”

Hublou said that by using algorithms to aggregate all HEMs systems such as smart thermostats with real-time data such as weather information, you can begin to understand an individual home’s thermal characteristics.

He said: “Energy efficiency is all about data not devices.

“When you understand the thermal properties of a home, you can decrease energy consumption for heating and cooling by 10-20 per cent without compromising comfort.

“This is achieved by making small daily changes to a thermostat that the consumer is unlikely to do themselves.”

Other benefits of a M2M adaptive system is increasing demand response yield by 25 per cent so you “load shift instead of load shed”, he said.

The system would also identify faults in consumers heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.

Mr Strother agrees that automated control could potentially make more energy savings than end-user control.

“Most people want devices that are easy to use and provide benefit.

“They want the heavy lifting to be done in the background and only alert them when there’s a problem or when they’ve made savings.

“They don’t to be nagged by a machine and have to go back often to check it.”

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