Latest Energy News

Will consumers plug into home energy displays?


Dozens of home energy monitors are coming to market, but nobody knows whether only hybrid Prius owners will use them.

Whole home energy monitors, or displays, are designed to help consumers conserve energy by providing far more detailed information than a monthly bill. These types of devices are already available, but millions more are poised to enter U.S. homes in the next two years, largely through utility-run smart grid programs.


The gadgets themselves vary, but the common thread among them is the ability to capture a stream of energy information from a meter at a given moment. Simply by surfacing real-time data, either with a small device or Web software, it's believed the system will prompt people to change their habits and ratchet down consumption by 5 percent to 15 percent, according to studies (PDF).

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Funny: A little pet hate

...Anyway it was warm the last few days as I am sure a lot of people noticed. It reminded me how important heating controls are in Ireland. Because I came home the other day and the house was so much hotter than it had been the day before because my heating is just on a timer. Now as much as the clothes that I had hung out in the kitchen were dry already, I could not help bit think that this had been an awful waste. That is my fault and it is why I am getting thermostats put in.

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Solar-powered climate-monitoring system launches

A sensor-based wireless climate monitoring and control system that enables farmers to optimise conditions in their greenhouses will launch in California this quarter.

Kodalfa’s system has been deployed by Turkish greenhouse tomato growers since 2005, but the company now operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ClimateMinder, its newly incorporated US parent, which is based in Los Angeles. Founder and chief executive Bulut Ersavas remains at the helm.

The move follows a decision by Val Babajov, founder and chairman of investment company Partner 1993, to take a minority stake in the firm in return for cash and the provision of software development services.

Ersavas said: “The American market is looking for flexible technology solutions that either can stand on their own or complement existing greenhouse-control systems to address portability, micro-climates, local practices and backup for primary systems.”


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Home Appliances Are Starting to Wise Up

Whirlpool Corp. plans to produce 1 million "smart" clothes dryers by the end of 2011, a step toward the company's goal of making all of its appliances smart grid-compatible in six years.

The company's Smart Energy dryers will respond to peak-energy prices by lowering power consumption, saving money for homeowners and easing stress on the electric grid, Whirlpool said as it announced the initiative yesterday. For people who pay variable prices for electricity, the dryers could save an average of $20 to $40 a year, the company said.

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Intel Touts Power Management for Buildings: Will Acquisitions Follow?

SAN FRANCISCO -- News Analysis -- Intel (INTC) says that the quickest way to a more intelligent grid might be through tools that can manage power consumption inside homes and buildings.

And in the end, that could one day mean good news for startups in this space looking for a big brother or someone to buy them.

Andrew Chien, a vice president of Intel Labs, gave an overview at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco today on microgrids – i.e., hardware, software and networking controls that can control power in buildings and neighborhoods.

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Enel Considering Google’s PowerMeter for Pilot Project

The Italian utility has the largest number of smart meters in the world, about 30 million. Now it’s talking with Google about using its PowerMeter home energy display in a new pilot project.

Enel, Italy's primary utility, is looking to Google's PowerMeter in a home energy management pilot project. If the project goes through, it would provide the largest test bed yet for the internet search giant's foray into helping homeowners save energy.


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Hit the Lights, Cut Power by 50% or More, Says PG&E

Those building automation systems for controlling lights actually work, says a new PG&E study. Expect sales to zoom.

Flipping off the lights does save power, particularly if you don't have to rely on humans.

A study commissioned by the Emerging Technologies Program at Pacific Gas & Electric has found that automated systems for dimming and turning off lights in commercial buildings could cut power consumed by lighting by 50 percent or greater.

Lighting controls from Adura Technologies did the best in the tests, curbing power by 51.4 percent to 72.9 percent.  Technology from EnOcean, meanwhile, curbed power consumption by 63.6 percent, but the result varied with the technologies EnOcean was partnered.


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GridWeek 2009

The Annual Gathering for Smart Grid

GridWeek provides the opportunity for organizations and businesses focused on Smart Grid to hold meetings and participate in collaborative sessions and learn from leading experts on Smart Grid.

Background on Smart Grid

A realization is emerging that a new view of energy, beyond oil, coal and other fossil based fuels, will result in decentralized components of the electricity grid, a far cry from the central generation and structured system of the past. A smart information network—the Energy Internet—for the electric grid is seen as necessary to manage and automate this new world.

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How smart is the Smart Grid: benefits for power consumers

The term electric power grid refers to an assembly of numerous networks and multiple power generation companies with multiple operators executing varying levels of communication and coordination, which is primarily manually controlled. In contrast, smart grids increase the connectivity and automation between the suppliers, consumers and networks that perform either long distance transmission or local power distribution tasks. In general, transmission networks move electricity in large quantities over medium to long distances and generally operate from 400kV to 800kV, whereas local distribution networks transport power in one direction, carrying the bulk power to consumers and businesses via lines operating at 132kV and lower.

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A New Building Energy Label in the Works, Alternative to Energy Star

The miles-per-gallon metric has gone a long way toward marketing the Prius and other fuel-efficient cars, and some are hoping a new, more detailed energy label than is currently available could do the same for buildings. That’s the idea behind a program set to be unveiled this fall by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, that would provide buildings with a sort of report card, or label, of their energy use.

The program would give buildings a rating from A+ to F, with the former reserved for facilities that are net zero –- meaning they produce as much energy on site as they consume –- and the latter meant for those that are “unsatisfactory.”

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