Fridge chewing more power than it should? Ask your smart meter

With plenty of media coverage, consumers are getting more and more wise to the “big things” that are driving up their electricity bills – like energy retailer greed, and over-investment in poles and wires.
But what about the little things? What about the faulty fridge that is drawing more power than it should? What about the hot water heater that is about to blow an element?
What if your energy provider could send you an alert about a faulty appliance you didn’t even know was faulty – and perhaps even offer a price comparison between staying with that appliance or upgrading it to a new one?
All entirely doable, according to smart meter giant Landis + Gyr, and coming to a grid edge near you.
“The ‘grid edge’ is more focused around what is the day to day value that (a consumer’s) energy provider can deliver,” says John Radgowski, vice president of solutions product management from Landis+Gyr Amercias.
“It’s about what’s happening close to, or inside the homes.
“In this particular case, the focus is on the consumer – engaging them in new programs, making energy consumption more meaningful in their day to day lives,” Radgowski told One Step in an interview last week.
“It’s not enough to just read the bill quarterly. Consumers expect … a bill that they can access 24/7 on a smart device that tells them what their appliances are doing.
“It is as simple as that – to be able to give a reading to the consumer.”
To this end, Landis + Gyr have released a major paper, called Welcome to the Edge: How Grid Edge Technologies Can Help Energy Companies Improve Customer Engagement and Create New Revenue Streams.
The company says it’s in talks with retailers about how to package the technology for consumers, while testing goes on in various parts of the globe.
Radgowski says that in trials of the technology in Texas, the moment the retailer launched Landis + Gyr’s fault anomaly software, customers “went nuts.”
“From an appliance monitoring stand point – the typical water heater in the US is dual element (electric). Being able to notice that an element is failing, or has failed, is important.
“Trying to heat water with one element is very inefficuent – it uses a lot more energy. And it can cause the premature failure of entire unit, which means the loss of hot water entirely.
“So this is a real-life example of how this sort of smart technology can this improve day-to-day life for consumers, as well as cut costs.
“In the case of a water heater, it could avoid additional repair and, if caught soon enough, can prevent other damage from occurring.”
“Direct customer benefit is now the main theme,” said Monique Spanbrook, who is general manager of marketing and communications for Landis+Gyr Australia, New Zealand and Asia-Pacific.
“Direct, day-to-day customer benefit. It’s about, ‘What’s happening inside my home?’ And with knowledge comes the ability to react.”
It’s about predicting issues for your customer before they happen.”
But as well as working for consumers, the technology would also help to re-build a bridge between consumers and energy providers, where – as we reported here last week – trust has been seriously eroded.
“The future of energy means that more and more, people are going to pull away from the grid,” said Spanbrook.
“But we need the grid, if we are going to make smart cities.
“Our government has been pretty slow with legislation, and also with the regulation, working out how the various stakeholders are going to (monetise) new smart energy technology, like solar and battery storage.
“But the customers are choosing it anyway. So it’s absolutely crucial that … we digitise all of that, so that we understand what’s happening from one end of the grid to the other,” she said.
“The whole idea is catching the energy industry up with current technology.
“Certainly, with respect to meters and meter services, we are talking to retailers now,” Stanbrook said. “We have a few more hurdles to get through to give retailers an incentive (to use the technology).”


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