LIV­ING ON TO­MOR­ROW STREET:

The ad­vanced en­ergy neigh­bour­hood.

Element - - Business -

In the fu­ture that Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy is ex­plor­ing, you will be able to con­trol all the ma­jor ap­pli­ances in your home from your smart phone, tablet or com­puter, wher­ever you are, giv­ing you com­plete con­trol over the power you use. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Al­bert Brant­ley said: “We asked our cus­tomers, and they told us, ‘be use­ful’, ‘make it easy for me’, ‘be rel­e­vant to me, my kids and my fam­ily’, ‘give me the tools to man­age my power bet­ter’. They were ask­ing us to em­power them to make changes, and to give them greater con­trol.” Part of Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy’s re­sponse has been to form an ex­clu­sive part­ner­ship with a cut­ting-edge US de­vel­oper of home en­ergy man­age­ment sys­tems and a host of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency ex­perts. Together they have cre­ated a test­ing pro­gramme to turn ideas about how we might con­trol our en­ergy use into re­al­ity. The sys­tem be­ing tri­alled is called HomeiQ. Es­sen­tially, it is a set of sin­gle and multi-plug boxes that com­mu­ni­cate wire­lessly to a cen­tral ‘brain’ which is then con­nected to the in­ter­net as well as an in-home dis­play unit. It makes it pos­si­ble to re­motely set your light­ing to wel­come you home, or switch on your MySky to record what you want, with­out hav­ing to leave it on all day. Or even switch ev­ery­thing you don’t need off in your home be­fore you leave. As well as the com­fort and con­trol, the sav­ings on your bill can re­ally mount up: ac­cord­ing to the En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity, ap­pli­ances use about a third of the av­er­age home’s elec­tric­ity bill and across the coun­try the car­bon diox­ide emis­sions just from elec­tric­ity wasted on ap­pli­ances on standby adds up to 130,000 tonnes each year. The idea is that HomeiQ will be used in com­bi­na­tion with the lat­est ad­vanced me­ters that pro­vide half-hourly, daily and weekly power use in­for­ma­tion. Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy has so far in­stalled more than 260,000 of the new me­ters, cov­er­ing about half the com­pany’s elec­tric­ity cus­tomers. The com­bined sys­tem has the po­ten­tial to be­come a very pow­er­ful tool for re­duc­ing home en­ergy bills and wastage. It could help iron out the peaks and troughs of power use across the coun­try, by giv­ing peo­ple in­cen­tives and tools to avoid busy pe­ri­ods when they can choose to set some ap­pli­ances for other times. This in turn, will re­duce the need for en­ergy gen­er­a­tors like Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy to cater for max­i­mum need, while keep­ing gen­er­a­tors idle at other times. It’s an­other step closer to switch­ing off some of the burn­ers at Huntly. Th­ese ba­sic ideas have been talked about for many years. If you have ever taken no­tice of the dial on a hy­brid car while driv­ing you will know how just be­ing aware of your power use and its cost can re­ally mo­ti­vate changes in be­hav­iour. Brant­ley said: “I in­stalled the sys­tem in my Auck­land apart­ment in 25 min­utes. Okay, I’m a geek at heart but it was easy to do. I can now turn on the lights or shut down any or all of my ap­pli­ances from my iPad, my iPhone or my com­puter any time and any place that I can get on­line. Best of all, it passes what I call the “mother-in-law” test, which means if I can get my mother-in-law to in­stall and use, it is eas­ily work­able!” As well as by the chief ex­ec­u­tive, the sys­tem is be­ing trailed at To­mor­row Street, by a mixed group of 15 house­holds on Auck­land’s North Shore. Be­fore get­ting all fu­tur­is­tic, Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy did the ba­sics. Ev­ery To­mor­row Street house­hold un­der­went en­ergy and elec­tri­cal as­sess­ments at the start of the pro­gramme to see how en­ergy ef­fi­cient their home was. Then Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy brought each home up to the lat­est ef­fi­ciency stan­dards with a range of in­su­la­tion and other en­ergy ef­fi­cient prod­ucts. Only af­ter that have the fam­i­lies been asked to try the en­ergy man­age­ment sys­tem, along with other ef­fi­ciency mea­sures, in­clud­ing so­lar hot wa­ter heaters, heat pump hot wa­ter, elec­tric­ity-gen­er­at­ing pho­to­voltaic cells and even dif­fer­ent pric­ing struc­tures that help them use the man­age­ment sys­tem to save money. To­mor­row Street be­gan in April, and is al­ready pro­duc­ing loads of use­ful in­for­ma­tion to help de­sign the home en­ergy sys­tems of the fu­ture.

Al­bert Brant­ley, chief exc­u­tive of Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy.

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