November 29, 2010
| by Steven Castle
Home energy monitoring—and energy management—is getting a lot more interesting.
Software startup Eragy is offering energy monitoring and plans to add some automated energy management—with a very practical twist.
The company’s just-released energy monitoring software works with a Control4 home control system and a TED (The Energy Detective) 5000 Series energy monitor to provide a nice user interface so homeowners can monitor their energy use at a glance. The $199 app, available at Control4’s 4App Store, works with Control4 systems that have the HC-200 or larger processors and system 1.7.4 or above—though only the Control4 2.0 operating system will be able to display the Flash-based interface on their touchpanels or TVs. Those without 2.0 can see a non-Flash web page. A package using an eGauge energy monitor that allows you to monitor energy use at the circuit level (to measure electricity use in rooms or appliances) will also be introduced.
In the first quarter of 2011, Eragy will roll out is an Intelligent Energy Management app that enables a Control4 system to dim lights or perform other functions if, say, a preprogrammed ceiling on energy use is reached. That’s nice. The company also has designs for high-current relays that allow the system to shut down appliances automatically. Even nicer.
And here’s the twist: Eragy’s energy management software will allow homeowners to see the benefits of switching to different electric utility rate structures to save some serious money, if the utility offers alternative rate structures. Some utilities offer Time of Use pricing, in which electricity is priced higher at “peak load” times of the day. And some have “tiered” pricing, in which you’re charged a much higher rate as soon as you cross a threshold of energy use. Eragy can help homeowners and their electronics installers decide which pricing structure is right for them, depending on their energy use—and automate functions to cut power at peak load times, for instance, to save money.
The system can also work with smart grid functions such as demand management, in which homeowners can receive discounts for allowing the utility to shut off appliances during peak load periods to avoid brownouts.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates