Knowl­edge is power

Want to re­duce your home’s en­ergy use? Then start by mon­i­tor­ing where, and when, it is be­ing used.

Element - - Healthy Homes - ANDY KEN­WOR­THY

The in­ter­net, com­bined with new ‘smart’ elec­tric­ity me­ters that pro­vide ac­cu­rate mon­i­tor­ing of your elec­tric­ity use, now al­lows us all to see how much power we are us­ing. What are some of the op­tions in New Zealand, and how are they driv­ing us to be more en­ergy ef­fi­cient?

Vec­tor owns and op­er­ates the elec­tric­ity dis­tri­bu­tion net­work in the greater Auck­land re­gion, and its sub­sidiary Ad­vanced Me­ter­ing Ser­vices has so far in­stalled 450,000 new smart me­ters that al­low con­stant mon­i­tor­ing and re­mote con­trol of a build­ing’s elec­tric­ity sys­tem.

More than 200,000 house­holds of Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy cus­tomers have switched to this kind of me­ter, and the com­pany is cur­rently tri­alling its ‘MyTime’ vari­able tar­iff, which of­fers cheap rates for off-peak elec­tric­ity in a bid to en­cour­age cus­tomers to shift their use where they can. The com­pany also of­fers ‘MyEn­er­gyCoach’, an on­line ser­vice that pro­vides coach­ing in en­ergy ef­fi­ciency to cus­tomers that is prov­ing par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar down south dur­ing the win­ter.

And Ge­n­e­sis is tri­alling all sorts of in­no­va­tions in elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances, elec­tric­ity ef­fi­ciency, mon­i­tor­ing, and re­mote con­trol through its To­mor­row Street pro­gramme, made up of a mixed group of 15 house­holds on Auck­land’s North Shore. Over the last year the homes in the pro­ject have re­duced their elec­tric­ity use by 18 per cent com­pared to the en­ergy us­age in the pre­vi­ous year.

Merid­ian En­ergy also pro­vides a user-friendly on­line sys­tem for track­ing elec­tric­ity use, which pro­vides a va­ri­ety of tips on how to save power and lower bills. Those who still have ‘stan­dard’ me­ters can track house­hold en­ergy use and com­pare it month to month, view their lat­est bill and run­ning bal­ance, see the last three years’ of trans­ac­tions and look ahead to the next bill. With a smart me­ter in­stalled, cus­tomers can set goals and bud­gets and track progress against them down to the half hour. They can also set email alerts on a monthly power bud­get and work out next month’s pro­jected en­ergy con­sump­tion. If you are the com­pet­i­tive type, or con­cerned your par­tic­u­lar home is not con­ducive to power sav­ing, you can even com­pare your en­ergy use against other homes in your area.

Hamish McE­wan, Merid­ian’s re­tail in­no­va­tion and re­la­tions man­ager, said: “It has made some cus­tomers much more en­gaged. The ex­cit­ing bit for me is that cus­tomers are start­ing to think about their en­ergy use. A lot of it comes down to the feel­ing that they couldn’t con­trol their bills, and now they re­alise that they can. But we are still re­ally at the early adopter stage.”

Merid­ian sub­sidiary Pow­er­shop is prob­a­bly at the fore­front of this in New Zealand. Its sys­tem not only al­lows cus­tomers to mon­i­tor their power use, it al­lows them to buy units of power at clearly de­fined prices from a whole range of sup­pli­ers, and even buy them at cheaper rates weeks or even months in ad­vance. Each cus­tomer has an on­line cal­en­dar that helps them to cal­cu­late how much power they have paid for and how much they need to buy. There are also var­i­ous dis­count packs and deals of­fered through­out the year. If cus­tomers don’t buy in ad­vance, the sys­tem bills them, just like a nor­mal power com­pany would.

Founder and CEO Ari Sar­gent, says: “We de­scribe this as the ‘weight watch­ers’ ef­fect. If you mon­i­tor what you eat, you’ll eat less. We want the same ef­fect with elec­tric­ity.”

All three com­pa­nies said that the most pow­er­ful driver for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency has so far has been to en­sure their cus­tomers can save money by cut­ting down, and that im­por­tant change al­ready seems to be well un­der­way.

“If you mon­i­tor what you eat, you’ll eat less. We want the same ef­fect with elec­tric­ity.”

Pow­er­shop founder and CEO Ari Sar­gent

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.