Bringing Home Intelligent Energy Management
Mitchell Gracie posted on March 05, 2019 |
A graphical schematic showcasing Centrica’s intelligent home energy management service. (Image courtesy of Centrica.)
A graphical schematic showcasing Centrica’s intelligent home energy management service. (Image courtesy of Centrica.)

Centrica, the international energy and services company and connected home business, wants to help smart homes go green and ease the burden that waste places on the grid.

By leveraging the newest solar, battery and heat pump technology, the company based in Windsor, UK, wishes to deliver support to energy distribution. Two recent, key investments will help Centrica in this transition. The investments will help fund GreenCom Networks—a European leader in home energy management—and Mixergy, a company whose products and services optimize hot-water use in smart homes.

"These investments are an important step forward to a time when IoT-enabled technology in the home will operate as a single unit to ensure that energy is used in the most effective way," said Sam Salisbury, director of Centrica Innovation Labs.

According to Centrica, it hopes its move will free up more than 4.5GW of flexible power during peak usage hours. That's more than 150 percent of the output of an average nuclear power plant in the United States.

"Our mission is to make people's lives easier, by providing seamless, time-saving services that are easy to use, have a positive environmental impact, and help save them money," continued Salisbury.

"Just as we have done for our business customers, home energy management takes this a step further by giving these customers access to new products that will enable them to generate and store their own energy as part of the ultimate 'Intelligent Home.'"

Behavioral Waste

We've all done it at some point: turning a faucet and letting it run until hot water finally makes its way out of the tap. In fact, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report from 2014, it turns out that heating water accounts for nearly 17 percent of energy use inside homes. It doesn't help that older hot water tanks don't leverage smarter sensors to keep track of behavior and usage cycles.

To start, Centrica—utilizing Mixergy's intelligent hot water systems and GreenCom’s platform to generate and store energy in the home—hopes to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) technology to place a downward pressure on that 17 percent, freeing up the stated 4.5GW of power to be utilized elsewhere or even stored for future use.

Using sensors to monitor and harvest data on energy use is the first step. Next, the systems based on that data will learn the daily routines of households and make decisions toward effective power use by finding efficiencies in decreasing waste. The last step will be the capture and storage of energy to then be sold or shared with the grid—or, simply, with neighbors—during hours of peak usage.

"Central to this will be an offer to customers that will deliver a greater variety of choice depending on whether their priority is warmth, price or the environment,” said Salisbury.

Power usage in homes being organized around the behavior of those who dwell inside is a key opportunity for IoT and intelligent systems to save consumers money while bettering lives. In fact, providing services such as the management of a home’s energy assets with the newest solutions is expected to be a $3-billion-per-year industry in Europe and North America by 2025.


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