Smart Metering is creating buzz in the marketplace, and for good reason. Consumer visibility into energy consumption — and having the means to take a more active role in day to day consumption – means less energy wasted and more money saved. But to get that level of visibility, companies and consumers need to make sense of massive amounts of data. Our project to bring smart metering to homes across Britain with IBM is a good example of how beginning with the home, our communities and cities can be more energy conscious and work to reverse the effects of climate change.
Background here: We received funding in the UK for a 30-month research project that will allow stakeholders from local authorities, private businesses and universities to study energy monitoring and its effect on human behavior. The goal was to enable real-time analysis of electricity usage for households, or even for individual appliances, to help people make better decisions about energy efficiency in the home and minimize their environmental impact.
So we installed small, low-cost energy monitoring devices at groups of homes in five European cities: Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester in the UK, and Plovdiv and Ivanovo in Bulgaria. These are really ‘living labs’ that give researchers access to real-world energy usage data, and where they can study behavior and attitudes towards energy management.
The key is getting homeowners access to all this information online in a simple format. Our dashboard does just that. It displays their electricity usage and performs analytics, such as calculating costs against the users’ electricity tariff, or comparing their usage to the average for their group. Our project proves that when people can see and understand the numbers, they can make more informed decisions about energy management and change their behavior – like reducing electricity bills and saving the environment, so to speak.
What does this mean for the larger UK population? In the first proof-of-concept we simulated three million homes sending readings once a minute and we were able to capture nearly 50,000 readings per second using only a quad-core, dual-processor Intel server. In the second, we moved to a slightly larger server and found we could deliver analytics response times of between one and three seconds for a similar load. Tech talk here, but the point is that energy monitoring for millions of homes or more can now be a practical proposition.
Clive Eisen, Chief Technology Officer at Hildebrand, is directly responsible for the operations and software development staff tasked with managing the roll-out of Hildebrand products and services.