Consumers Want More Control Over Energy Usage. This Partnership Will Help Make That Happen.

Consumers Want More Control Over Energy Usage. This Partnership Will Help Make That Happen.

The rise of smart devices has fundamentally transformed consumer expectations around the way they use, and increasingly produce, energy. In turn this evolution has begun to transform the way forward-looking utilities think about next-generation service delivery. 

At the heart of the shift sit three interconnected trends – de-carbonization of our energy supply, decentralization of power generation through technologies like rooftop solar and digitalization of the grid – that collectively will require us to reimagine the way our entire energy system operates.

Smart meters, and a smarter grid, are critical parts of this evolution. Integrating intermittent renewable resources like solar, which frequently provide power during periods of low energy consumption, requires a grid that can adapt to supply and demand in real time, making the most efficient use of available power.

Simultaneously the role of the consumer is fundamentally evolving. According to a series of surveys by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, over 60 percent of homeowners want to learn more about their real-time energy usage, while more than three-quarters want data driven suggestions on how to reduce their energy use and save money.

The convenience of automation is making energy management easier and more engaging. With the growing adoption of Wi-Fi enabled appliances and mobile apps, the ability to manage everything from lighting to security is now accessible to a broad range of households.

A new partnership will help bring this vision closer to reality. In January, Landis+Gyr and Sense announced a collaboration to make a pioneering home energy app available to utilities, as an upload to the electric meter.

The agreement highlights the exciting future ahead for 21st Century metering. With the next generation of meters going beyond measurement to serve as distributed computing devices that can run applications and connect to customers’ smart devices, they are uniquely capable of acting as energy management hubs for both utilities and consumers.

This technology provides a powerful demonstration of why machine learning and autonomous decision making at the grid-edge will become universal features of utility IoT networks and devices. The ability to implement the solution as a smartphone app that connects to next generation meters without additional hardware, opens a world that is otherwise largely invisible to the homeowner. Instead of seeing household energy use only on a monthly bill, consumers can view the impact of every energy-using device in real time on their mobile devices.

Consumers also benefit from the ability to identify appliances in need of repair or replacement, while gaining insights that boost security and peace of mind. For instance, users can see if an old water heater is using more power than it should and how much it’s costing. The Sense app will reveal if an iron or stove has been left on too long. By harnessing machine learning, the Sense app displays what each individual appliance and device costs to run. In short, it acts like a fitness tracker for the home.

For a utility, this new method of delivering energy management support to customers is cost effective, readily upgradable and easy to implement. It incorporates traditionally expensive and elaborate home management devices into a simple, utility-provided app so consumer participation requires only a mobile device and Wi-Fi connection.

This may sound like a small step, but as demand management becomes more crucial to balancing our changing energy supply, grid-edge decision-making will be crucial to maintain power quality and reliability.

At the intersection of energy and the internet of things, we can prepare for a new wave of smart appliances and controls that respond to the supply of electricity and help integrate technologies like electric vehicles and rooftop solar into the grid more cheaply and cleanly.

That’s the kind of innovation and opportunity that consumers prize: one that saves them money, puts power in their hands and helps the planet, all at the same time. We’re excited to work side by side to help solve our world’s energy challenges and deliver the smart energy home of the future.

Prasanna Venkatesan is President & CEO of Landis+Gyr Americas. Mike Phillips is CEO and Co-Founder of Sense.

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