29 May 2015

Taking remote control of your electricity

Householders may soon be able to keep real-time track of their electricity usage and remotely switch on and off appliances through their phones, tablets and computers.

Eddy: energy management tool

Show transcript

Dr Brad Sparkes: Eddy is a cloud-based technology that can be downloaded as an app onto say your tablet or smartphone and enables people to actually control and monitor their energy usage in the house, and they can do that either when they’re at home and when they’re out and about. And with that ability to actually monitor and control, it enables the household to save money.

At this stage it’s for your major devices, air conditioning, pool pumps and the like, in the future hopefully we’ll be able to develop it to the point where we can control discrete individual lights.
Eddy was developed here at the energy centre where we perform research on all facets of energy usage in Australia and abroad. The facilities here at the CSIRO energy centre are some of the best in the world, and we’ve got the researchers to match.

CSIRO is performing a lot of research into energy usage and helping industry overcome some of the key issues. One that’s constantly facing us is peak demand. Peak demand occurs two times a day- morning peak and afternoon peak, which actually causes the greatest challenge to our grid supplying quality power. So when there’s an extreme event, for example a 45 degree day in Adelaide, the electricity grid gets very stressed. Using demand management technologies it’s possible to support the grid in reducing unnecessary loads. So using this technology actually allows people to participate in these demand management events through incentive based programs deployed by their utilities.

The technology’s been commercialised by an Australian company called HabiDapt and there’s trials underway at the moment in Perth and Townsville, and in the future, hopefully it’ll be available in every home in Australia.

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The technology, known as Eddy, was developed by CSIRO and is being commercialised by Australian company HabiDapt which is trialing it in Perth, and in conjunction with Ergon Energy Retail in regional Queensland.

Using an online interface – on a computer, smartphone or tablet – Eddy keeps track of electricity use, collects and analyses the data, and makes recommendations to help users save money.

It also allows users to remotely control major appliances such as air conditioners, hot water systems and pool pumps.

To reduce demand on the grid during peak periods, users can also take part in demand management programs offered by their energy company and receive rewards in return, such as discounts on their energy bill.

"This unique tool is all about giving people more control over their energy and helping them to save money," CSIRO Research Leader Glenn Platt said.

"Using a simple online dashboard, people can see how their energy use is tracking and make adjustments to reduce costs.

"The tool really highlights how easy it is for people to make big savings on their energy bill without impacting on their lifestyle.

"By viewing when their home is exporting excess energy to the grid, households with solar PV systems can save additional money by programming their system to run certain appliances when the sun is shining.

"With the option of taking part in demand management schemes, the system can also reward households for using less electricity during peak energy periods."

The technology was developed at CSIRO’s energy centre in Newcastle, where scientists are working with some of the most sophisticated energy technology found anywhere in the world.

The system uses cloud-based software and mini smart meters that look just like the regular circuit breakers found in your meter box.

The smart meters connect to the cloud via a small internet communication device in the house. Once connected, the appliances linked to the meters can be remotely controlled.

The technology is based on CSIRO’s sophisticated Energy Management System, which has also been adapted for use on King Island’s Smart Grid.

"We want to give households an energy management tool that is simple to use and unlocks lasting benefits," HabiDapt CEO Stephen Kubicki said.

"Eddy gives households control over their energy and saves them money.

"As well as giving households tools to understand and manage their energy, Eddy lets people participate in the energy market by reducing peak demand in ways that, until now, have only been available to large-scale commercial consumers."

HabiDapt is currently trialling the technology in homes with solar PV systems in Perth, and is also rolling the system out with Ergon Energy in Townsville, where it is being offered to customers as 'HomeSmart'.

Additional resources

Images

  • Finger moving to touch an iPad screen showing the Eddy app. Download image

    Eddy allows real-time electricity tracking technology for household use.

  • Fingers touching an iPad screen showing the Eddy app. Download image

    Using Eddy people can see how their energy use is tracking.

  • Fingers touching an iPad screen showing the Eddy app. Download image

    Eddy gives people more control over their energy usage, helping them to save money.

  • Fingers touching an iPad screen showing the Eddy app. Download image

    Using a tablet or smartphone people are able to control and monitor their energy usage in the house.

Audio

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