I recently read this article about how smartphones could be used in the future to help reduce our energy bills. The article discusses the energy usage in America and how a heat wave in Texas during 2011, put a strain on the electric grid as the state battled to keep cool. The strain was felt in spite of homes in the area with south-facing solar panels harnessing half the energy required to run their own homes.
Pecan Street Inc. are looking into ways to bring in a smart grid that helps consumers manage their energy usage and help utility companies prepare for such fluctuations that occurred in 2011. One downfall at present is the fact that electricity in the U.S. is not very expensive and most utilities don’t charge a rate that reflects the actual cost of energy. President Obama has tried to influence saving energy too by investing $3.4 billion into the smart grid concept and utility companies have been installing smart meters in homes.
Brewster McCraken, the president and CEO of Pecan Street sees a future of energy apps for smartphones that help run your home, automatically altering your usage to help you save money and help the grid manage the supply better. This got me thinking about apps and technology that already exist and are aiding us in reducing our energy usage, and in turn how much we spend.
Utility company apps such as npower
As an npower customer I downloaded the app and saw how quick and easy it is to use! You simply fill in a few details and you can see exactly how much energy you are using, send meter readings so you no longer have estimated bills and it has information about saving energy through alternative methods such as double glazing. It also has advice about generating your own energy, getting the best deal from npower and even a fun energy saving game!
The Green Deal App
The new Government scheme has been created to help us make our homes more energy efficient, offering grants to allow us to improve our homes and reduce energy bills. This app has all the details about the Green Deal that you need to know, including a self-assess function to help you decipher the best improvement for your home.
This is a fun way to compete against your friends to be crowned the most energy efficient in town. It compiles a list of energy saving tips and when each one is achieved, you earn points and trophies, helping you live a more sustainable life and saving money!
The Nest Thermostat
This gadget has been around for a while in the US, but it looks set to be released in the UK! This clever thermostat can be controlled from an app in or out of your home, so if you leave the house and forget to turn it off, you can do it on your phone. This clever device learns about your habits and can build a schedule to suit this. As well as being an intelligent gadget, it is also a money saver and when it does eventually roll out across the UK, it is something worth investing in!
Image sourced from Gary Sewell on Flickr
There are many types of these monitors and they range in capabilities, but essentially they are great for monitoring your energy usage to help you change your bad energy habits. These gizmos attach to your electricity supply and help you find appliances in your home that consume a lot of energy! Once they’re found, you can then do your bit by turning them off when they’re not in use etc to save some more money! Mrs Energy Saving won one of these monitors in a competition we ran last year and she wrote a blog about her habit changes.