Many environmental and economic benefits of the smart grid have yet to be realized by residential users. One of the most promising smart grid technologies is demand response in which load reductions supplant the need to spin up expensive and carbon intensive “peaker plants”. While common in commercial and industrial sectors, demand response has not penetrated the residential market. Current residential demand response programs require additional hardware, preventing its widespread adoption. Our “killer app“ idea avoids this barrier to entry by relying on smart meters to provide insights into a homeowner’s energy usage.
When the grid is about to reach peak demand and a demand response event occurs, application users would receive a notification via social media or text message to reduce their electricity consumption. These reductions are aggregated and sold back into the electricity grid. Not only do our users see their positive environmental impact, they receive payments at the end of each month commensurate with their event participation.
To further educate users on how they can reduce their electricity consumption, the app would contain a beautifully visualized interface that coaches them on how to optimize their home’s energy usage. Like mint.com for finance, automatic for cars, or fitbit for health, this app would bring personalized energy data to the user in a clean, crisp, easy to understand format that leverages the power of community influence.
The solution would take existing smart meter data, courtesy of Green Button Connect, and display energy usage disaggregated into certain categories. From smart meter data combined with weather data and personal information that users could provide, we would determine a user’s energy usage in the following:
* Baseload or vampire loads
* Plugload or all devices used when someone is home
* Gas heating
* Electric air conditioning
* Gas hot water heater and cooking
Additionally, locational data and publicly available information about solar, wind and hydro production would provide estimates for the carbon footprint of electricity at any given time. Users would be notified to reduce electricity consumption when renewable resources are low, requiring dirty, inefficient coal and gas plants to be run. As indicated earlier, the user would receive rewards and credits for participating in load reduction events.
Along with this description, we have included a short mock up of what we would intend for the app to look like. This mock up relies on Adobe Illustrator to show what could be done with smart grid data.