Two PhD students at the University of Sydney have developed a solution to monitor the energy use of individual appliances in an effort to help consumers decide how and when to use or replace them.
The “MyPower Energy Platform” uses a smart plug with an embedded GSM unit to monitor major household appliances such as washing machines, clothes dryers, microwaves, electrical water heaters, and refrigerators.
“The plugs sense actual power usage and transmit the information via SMS reports to a cloud-based data warehouse every 30 minutes,” said Waiho Wong, one of the two designers from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies. “The householder can then access their electricity consumption data and drill down to individual appliances’ cost based on peak, shoulder and off-peak rates, through the MyPower website.”
“Access to this data will allow users to optimise their appliance usage and take advantage of lower electricity rates by remotely scheduling or switching off the appliance via the smart plug,” said colleague Mahboobeh Mogaddham. “We are excited because this platform can provide a technically and economically feasible solution for households to reduce their electricity consumption by up to 10 percent — a significant cost reduction over the life of their appliances.”
The pair are conducting their PhDs under the supervision of Professor Joseph Davis, Director of the Knowledge Discovery and Management Research Group, who noted that recent research has shown that a householders’ ability to understand and reduce energy consumption is severely constrained by the aggregate nature of reporting found on traditional power bills.
“The proposed solution ‘MyPower Energy Platform’ captures highly disaggregated data at the appliance level and transforms it into actionable knowledge via analytics-based applications,” he said.
Professor Davis says the platform has the potential to be used by both manufactures and governments to develop incentive schemes for households to replace older, high-consumption appliances or to support education and awareness campaigns around energy efficiency and green house gas reduction.