Leveraging Weather Data for Home Energy Savings

– by Earth Networks’ Energy Products and Business Development Director Dave Oberholzer

Earth Networks recently won a grant from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program to further research using our real-time, neighborhood-level weather data to optimize energy use in homes. For this initiative, we will be working collaboratively with Dr. Jungho Kim, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Michael Siemann, Graduate Research Assistant, at the University of Maryland’s James A. Clark School of Engineering.

The grant continues our previous work with the University of Maryland. Over the past two years, Earth Networks has invested millions of dollars and partnered with UMD to develop and test prototype home energy management systems. The new MIPS grant is an investment by the State of Maryland and Earth Networks to complete the development of our models and help bring this exciting new technology to market and adapt it to the commercial building market.

As a result of our ongoing work, we are introducing a home energy demand response and energy efficiency service called e5, which stands for ease, energy, efficiency, environment and earth. The service, which will launch this summer, is designed to reduce peak consumer demand for power and help utilities ramp up their smart grid initiatives by managing the impact of extreme heat or cold on the electric grid.

Electrical demand is directly correlated to local weather conditions.  For example, during the summer, high temperatures, solar radiation, wind and humidity combine to burden electrical loads during the hottest part of the day. Peak loads take their toll economically and environmentally. Balancing these loads from peak to non-peak period can result in huge savings.

While demand response has been used for years to reduce industrial electrical loads when demand is high, managing residential demand is more challenging, and that is where traditional response programs have faltered. Consumers are not typically willing to sacrifice any significant amount of comfort in exchange for the dollar or two a week they may receive in return for participating in typical utility programs. Yet, because more than 50% of peak load is attributable to residential air conditioning, comfort is part of the equation that cannot be ignored.

e5 takes a different approach to deliver energy savings without sacrificing creature comforts. To help balance peak power demand, e5 uses advanced algorithms and real time neighborhood-level weather data to model and control a house – rather than relying on data from a distant airport or other location that may not represent actual current local conditions.

As an added benefit, these algorithms can be used to minimize heating and cooling costs, and give homeowners valuable insight on their energy use.

The program has three goals:

  1. Keeping homeowners comfortable
  2. Reducing costs to the consumer, and
  3. Minimizing air conditioning electrical load during peak periods.

We believe that it’s possible to use home energy to heat and cool your home in a way that will help save consumers money while also helping the environment…thanks to local weather observations from the closest weather station in your community.

About Earth Networks

Earth Networks gathers and analyzes environmental observations from around the world to help promote a better understanding of the planet and its atmosphere.
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