Users to take remote control of electricity

The Eddy online interface

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

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

Using an online interface, 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 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 in the world. The system uses cloud-based software and mini smart meters that closely resemble circuit breakers found in residential meter boxes.

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.

HabiDapt chief executive officer Stephen Kubicki said researchers want to give households an energy management tool that is simple to use and unlocks meaningful and long-lasting benefits.

“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,” he said.

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.

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