Energy management: more services to reduce consumption

By Antoine Roland (PRIME) and Basile Bouquet (Consulate of France in San Francisco)

HES1The energy sector is facing one of the biggest challenges ever. Population growth and development are increasing the energy demands, while we are tapping into our resources and running short on fossil materials. There are many ways to improve our capacity to face this challenge, including grid improvement, renewable energy’s development, local energy production, energy storage technology’s development…

One particular promising area is reducing energy consumption in the residential and industrial sectors. In many countries, it represents 40-50% of the consumption! So, is there a smart house for our smart grid under the pipeline…? Let’s get a quick overview of what’s happening in new energy services empowered by Big Data.

In order to improve our house efficiency, big corporations as active startups are focusing on the three of the following trends to bring innovative solutions:

Monitoring & Reporting: Through the use of specific “smart” appliance or sensors adapted to your current appliances, companies are able to record precisely the energy consumption and activities in your house and report them to you. For companies involved in this segment it is usually required to master both hardware and software skills to create sensor systems combined with algorithms for reported information.

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Estimate of Demand Make-Up of Maximum Energy Use in Summer, by Agency service area for Natural Resources and Energy

Lucid Design, an Oakland based company working on this niche, offers a convenient way to monitor energy consumption through this kind of systems. Thanks to their dashboard on a web platform or on a Smartphone, you can identify your consumption sorted by appliance, compare it to other users of Lucid’s network and finally rank your house.

Analyzing: This is a fully big data analytical service. Using information gathered from these monitoring and reporting systems, it aims to identify abnormal consumptions and offers solutions to the homeowner to lower his consumption. Some companies are able to provide both services from Monitoring and Analyzing, such as the French startup, Openergy. But others such as Energy Evolution are able to analyze internal or external reports and draw conclusions without installing any specific devices.

Automated devices solutions: This last point is focusing on bringing some automation to home appliances to help the customer reduce its energy consumption. Most of the time an innovative and automated system, presented as the solution to tackle home energy weaknesses, is offered to users after their house has been monitored and analyzed. But some companies are selling their devices to better manage your appliances without considering your consumption pattern at all, ensuring energy improvements. Today, it’s possible to automate almost every home appliance. Most companies such as BuildingIQ are exploring heating/air management systems as it represents the biggest share in domestic consumption. View is concentrating on your windows, enabling owners to regulate indoor temperature by shifting their tint. Basically, these systems enable you to remotely order the temperature or isolation of your house from your phone; for example, you can program a specific temperature at the time you come back home from work; and their intelligent system manage house appliance to match your needs and minimize daily consumption. Everything, by including house activity, climate condition…

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SeriousEnergy Manager application from Serious Materials

Ijenko is a Bouygues contracted startup that enables you to remotely switch on/off your appliances individually and report your consumption. It also goes further by linking you to the grid. They use their platform to communicate some of your data to operators and fully integrate your home to the smart grid. By doing this, operators match your needs and improve their system…meaning improving your home energy efficiency!

Engagement looks very promising for the energy efficiency business but one question remains. What happens when you get your whole house automated? When you have one app for heating, one for lighting, one for windows and who knows what else… Companies like WigWag, OpenRemote or SmartThings are taking care of that, building an Open Source platform to gather and unify all your house automation systems at once! Your devices are connected in a centralized way and can interact.

To end up with a smart note proving that energy companies never stop to innovate, I will introduce the famous thermostat management Company Nest, which is looking further in the future of houses and launch its thermostat management application on Google Glass… where is the limit, no one knows!

By integrating Big Data analysis in energy services, there’s much hope we can improve the future of energy.