The goal of smart grids, smart meters and the wider connected home is to empower consumers to take control of their energy consumption, while also making it more fun and more engaging.
Radical investment is being made in the grid’s distribution and communication infrastructure, in order to cater for the changes in the electric generation patterns and the inflow of generation for localised sources. For the future, balancing demand for energy with the available resources becomes a major undertaking for the energy suppliers who will rely on the updated smart grid to make it happen.
‘Demand-side response’ will be a phrase increasingly talked about in coming years. This isn’t a new phenomenon – major industrial users have been involved in this for many years. It essentially means that during peak load times, certain companies can be called upon to either reduce or turn-off operations and, therefore, reduce their energy consumption.
The roll-out of smart meters will provide another opportunity to offer varying tariffs, so that when it is particularly windy or sunny and renewable technologies are at their best, availability of electricity will be much higher and, therefore, potentially cheaper. The smart meter will also mean that consumers will have greater access to their energy consumption patterns and data, as well as pricing information, so that they are much better placed to make informed decisions about providers and efficiency. A smart meter can also help to determine, through automation of the home, when it’s the cheapest and most efficient time to run the washing machine or charge an electric vehicle.
As part of the Government roll-out, all homes will have a smart meter within the next five years, enabling communication between consumers and energy suppliers. Through a deeper understanding of energy consumption patterns and triggers to usage, energy companies can better plan for spikes and also help to reduce energy production, when there are high levels of renewable and consumer generated energy in the system.
Where things get really interesting for the consumer is in the development of smarter controls and technologies which will help to reduce consumption further and can enable greater interaction with the smart home. We have already seen the arrival of technologies such as Hive and Nest heating technologies, and the smart-connected home opens up even greater opportunities in the form of lighting, audio and visual solutions.
What is really important to communicate is the broad range of solutions available in the market, to meet customer need. A recent project in the prestigious One Tower Bridge development in London saw the installation of a Legrand Vantage home automation system featuring temperature, lighting and entertainment functions. On the opposite end of the scale, a Legrand Arteor system, featuring smart lighting and entertainment, has been installed at Cambridge Riverside – the point being, that smart technology is no longer a solution for the select few, it is accessible to all.
Everyday life will be enhanced by technology. It will continue to learn and shape its actions based on experience, helping to make the best use of our energy while striving for greater comfort levels and enhanced entertainment experiences too. The connected home and wider world isn’t something to fear, it opens up a whole new realm of opportunity and interaction, and the exciting part is – it’s here and it’s available today.
For more information on Legrand, telephone (NI) 0345 605 4333 or (RoI) 01 295 9673 or visit www.legrand.co.uk