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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cheaper electric bill with IBM smart house devices

During the last year, IBM started a pilot study in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to find out how much can people reduce their energy consumption by using smart grids and by slightly changing their habits.

It looks like smart grids + change of habits is a winning idea: the results gathered so far show a 15% saving in energy consumption in residential areas and small businesses, with up to 40% saving in the electric bill of some apartments.

How is this possible?

The key points are that
  • most of the people do not realize where the energy goes, as there are plenty of hidden devices that contribute to the electric bill
  • even if people realized that, they are currently not able to turn them off or to take any action.
IBM came out with a control center that allow users to see in real time which devices are on, and how much they are costing you. These control centers (which are nothing more than a computer with some wireless peripherals in the house) can be easily installed in an apartment, or a house.

This way users can "keep an eye" on what IBM calls "ghost devices": air conditioning systems, water heaters, and other devices that use electric power while we don't even realize it.

A real time feedback from a number of smart meters allow partecipating users to see how much these device are costing them, and to turn them off or down. A user friendly software allows to do that on the Internet, specifying a monthly electric bill cost and authorizing the control center to turn devices off to reach this goal. Data flow on Verizon Wireless 3G network.