New system for monitoring electricity use heralds greener homes and cheaper bills

Oct 28, 2010

During the winter months the days grow colder and the nights longer causing households to use more electricity, often resulting in higher bills. Most households have no way of monitoring how much electricity is being consumed; however, researchers in Pittsburgh believe a new monitoring system may soon be available for residential use. The research is published in a special issue of Yale's Journal of Industrial Ecology on environmental applications of information and communication technology sponsored by CSC's Leading Edge Forum.

"There are many opportunities for reducing in buildings, but identifying and quantifying them is often very difficult, particularly in single-family homes," said Dr Mario Berges from Carnegie Mellon University. "This means that for most residents the only indicator of consumption they have is their monthly electricity bill."

Dr Berges's team analysed non-intrusive load monitoring (NILM), a novel technique for deducing the and operational schedule of individual loads in a building from measurements of the overall voltage and current feeding it.

NILM uses a single whole-house meter, connected to software in an embedded device or computer to provide appliance-level energy metering. The system monitors the signals on electrical wires, and then uses signal processing and machine-learning algorithms to identify which device caused the change in electricity use, matching it against a library of known signatures from different devices.

Currently, residential buildings account for as much as 37% of the total electricity use in the United States, so a system such as NILM which provides continuous monitoring could make households greener as well as more cost effective.

Because NILM systems often require a training period during which the different appliances in the home are switched through the different modes of operation in order to populate the library of signatures, the researchers explored the idea of incorporating these steps into the typical one-time visit of residential energy auditors.

"This form of non-intrusive load monitoring may be able to provide a new type of continuous electrical audit for residential buildings, down to the appliance level," concluded Berges. "While costs can only be estimated at this point, it is possible that the price of such a system could be similar to that of the whole-house meters currently available on the market, approximately $200 per residence."

Explore further: Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Home energy monitors may not cut electricity use

Sep 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Home energy monitors (smart meters or Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS)), monitor the energy used by households and/or individual appliances within the home, and they are often recommended ...

CeBIT 2010: Intelligent energy management for the home

Feb 24, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- In order to save energy, consumers need to be able to obtain up-to-date information at any time about the energy consumption of their appliances, and be able to control them while away from ...

General Electric Plans Net-Zero Energy Home by 2015

Jul 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using solar panels, wind turbines, appliance monitoring, and on-site energy storage, General Electric has a plan to enable homeowners to cut their annual energy consumption (from the electric ...

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

15 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

15 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

22 hours ago

The typical Norwegian owner of a solar heating system is a resourceful man in his mid-fifties. He is technically skilled, interested in energy systems, and wants to save money and protect the environment.

User comments : 0