For two decades utility companies have understood the fact that consumers reduce the amount energy they use when they can monitor that use in dollars and cents in real time. However there has been no economic incentive for utility companies to make this easy for the consumer to do. That has changed now with new wholesale power costs structures and regulator’s efforts to curtail peak power demand
Dr. Sarah Darby of the Oxford University‘s Environmental Change Institute wrote a landmark paper in 2005 calling for the incorporation of real time energy feedback into the suites of services utilities offer their customers. Get paper here.
Darby noted that real time energy feedback resulted in an up to 20% reduction in monthly energy consumption.
Real time energy consumption feedback means the consumer has a display device which provides the current amount of energy being used in engineering units like kWh and dollars and cents as well as the total accumulated energy used and its cost since the beginning of the utility company’s billing cycle.
Few consumers know that the amount they pay for a unit of electricity or kWh is not constant. Virtually all utilities in the U.S. have implemented multi-variable billing structures to support:
- Multi-tier system. This means as you exceed a specified number of kilowatt-hours in a calendar month, the cost of more kilowatt-hours becomes greater that the baseline cost. Three and four tier structures are common.
- Time of use rates. In a time of use tariff structure the price of a kilowatt-hour varies as a function of the time of day that kilowatt-hours is consumed.
Many utilities are evaluating even more sophisticated billing structures involving a “peak demand use ratchet” and real time or dynamic pricing.
EnergyCite’s home energy management system can handle virtually any tariff or rate structure and provides accurate up to the second use and cost information to the customer. The EnergyCite home learning software disaggregates energy use and cost down to the appliance level and makes periodic recommendations to the consumer for additional cost savings.
EnergyCite offers an entire product line of system components which can automatically fine tune the energy consumption of any house so the consumer never needs to adjust energy loads manually.
The consumer can start off with a basic energy monitoring and HVAC thermostat and gradually add more automated control devices based on the EnergyCite system’s recommendations.