What does the future hold for the way we use energy in our homes?
New technology and a growing commitment to energy efficiency is ushering in a revolution in the way we consume and produce energy.
People are embracing the challenge of a low-carbon future as we adopt a cleaner, greener approach to energy usage. It’s an exciting time as advances in technology facilitate a greater focus on renewable and efficient energy. Emerging smart tech, changing consumer habits and new energy policies are redefining local and international energy markets.
The way we use power in our homes is already evolving and “grid edge” solutions like renewable technologies are set to transform the way people interact with the power grid.
Smart homes will get even smarter…
The ‘Internet of Things’ is making our homes smarter, more connected and more efficient. Almost 40pc of the homes that are currently being constructed in Ireland contain some smart technology. Smart thermostats like the Nest Thermostat can already reduce energy use by up to 20pc. These devices can be connected to the internet, controlled from your smartphone and they can “talk to” each other.
For instance, Nest Thermostat uses data from local weather stations to automatically set the heating schedule to the optimum temperature for you. Connectivity of devices paired with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to change our homes by providing a centralised and personalised home energy management system that will automatically control heating, lighting and other settings in our home.
Nest uses learning algorithms, motion detection and smartphone location to determine when your home is empty and then adjust the heating to save you money. It even works with smart bulbs, connected door locks and more so your home comes alive to welcome you home.
…And so will energy customers
In 2019, Ireland will begin a five year programme to replace over two million analogue electricity meters with new smart meters. From 2021, suppliers will be able to offer new services to customers, including products that enable you to shift some of your consumption to off-peak times of day when electricity is cheaper. Customers will be able to get more insights into what is driving their consumption and there will be no more estimated bills.
Smarter home technology is also a growing trend and it offers people real time analytics on energy usage and bill forecasting - so you can see your energy consumption and the devices that are consuming the most energy at any given moment. Tracking this data over time will help you to understand your bill and adjust your habits to reduce bills.
It also allows you to remotely control your appliances, heating or hot water and the live data can tell you if you need to remotely disconnect devices that are wasting electricity.
Consumers will become “prosumers”
The technology is already there to allow consumers to take more ownership over their energy use by producing a percentage of what they need. Renewable technology like solar panels will allow the consumer to become the “prosumer.”
Well-installed systems can cover up to 50pc of a household’s annual electricity, ushering in an exciting era of self-sufficiency and – ultimately – lower bills for consumers. Advances in battery technology could also facilitate greater storage and redistribution of energy. An energy storage revolution could conceivably turn our smart homes into sustainable batteries, constantly generating and storing energy to limit the amount that we would otherwise have to buy from the grid.
Getting more from our energy
Energy efficient technology may be better for the environment but it also offers consumers a smarter, cheaper way to live. Electric cars, for example, can reduce your transport costs by up to 74pc and are becoming a more attractive option for consumers as charge times are coming down and battery ranges are increasing. The International Energy Agency recently predicted that the number of electric cars on the road will grow from three million to 125 million by 2030.
Electric heat pumps are another example of efficient technology that’s changing the way we live, and could be up to 30pc cheaper to run than a gas or oil burner. They extract heat from the outside air or ground then transfer it indoors at a warmer temperature. Heat pumps require a home to be relatively airtight home to operate and are expected to provide 60pc of household heating by 2050 but they require a home to be relatively airtight to operate.
Start from a good base
Getting ready for the future means forming good habits now. Start with changing the way you use electricity to make real savings and avoid waste. Making simple changes like introducing a smart thermostat can make a big difference and help you to start getting your home ready for the future.
How we use our energy is changing but Electric Ireland customers still get the best long-term savings on electricity and gas in the market, year after year. See the proof on the Electric Ireland Price Check.