Smart energy is a term that has been around now for a few years and can’t seem to be shaken off. It can be described as an intelligent technology system that monitors and actively manages energy consumption at the end-user level. It is an integrated system that reports consumption, allows utilities to manage peak loads, and increases efficiency.
We now live in a world where we need to find smarter ways to produce, conserve, and deliver energy. The remaining oil reserves are becoming more expensive to extract and excessive carbon emissions are threatening our natural world. Smart energy is therefore one solution that attempts to answer our energy challenges, and puts efficiency and conservation at the forefront in the form of intelligent products and systems.
There are currently hundreds of smart energy solutions available that allow the user to monitor, control and reduce energy consumption. Products from the very simple such as efficient light bulbs, to the more complex high-tech solar time switches that calculates sunsets and sunrises so that your lights are switched on and off accordingly. How about a fully integrated thermostatic radiator that allows you to remotely control the temperature of each individual room in your home? These intricacies give you added control of your energy and can save you a small fortune in the long-run.
Aside from these small products available on the market, big infrastructural changes are set to occur that will harmonise and further integrate this notion of smart energy. For a truly integrated platform, a smart energy grid and metering system will need to be implemented that allows 2-way communication between the supplier and the end-user. Traditionally, electricity companies’ supply far more power than is demanded which leads to unnecessary inefficiencies. In the future we may see a more controlled method of supply where the smart grid warns all users to reduce demand temporarily in response to a rapid increase in power consumption. This 2-way communication will provide a better way of gathering and acting on information to deliver a more reliable, efficient, economical and sustainable production of electricity.
Until then, what we can do is be smart ourselves. Go back to the basics. Switch off your lights and taps, wash your clothes at off-peak hours and set your thermostats and timers effectively. Continue to educate yourselves about energy saving technologies and make the right decisions. Smart energy will make these decisions easier and more automated and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I guess it’s our behaviour and attitude to energy use that will always lead the way.
Posted by: Sean Flint