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Smart Home Technologies: Controlling Gas And Electricity Usage For Maximum Savings In Bordeaux – To tackle climate change, the energy sector must face an unprecedented challenge: decarbonisation. But reducing greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t just require cleaner ways to generate power. It also means harnessing the power of technology to change how energy is distributed, traded and stored, helping us do more with less.
The technology opens up new markets in the energy sector that can make this a reality. Flexibility markets provide e.g. companies the opportunity to make money by reducing their energy consumption at times of peak demand after electricity.
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Where access to this market once required a company to plan its reduced energy consumption in advance, this can now be done in real time. Business Solutions’ energy insight product ‘Panoramic Power’ uses wireless sensors in commercial buildings to transmit real-time data from energy-consuming equipment to an analytics platform. This allows visibility and understanding of power consumption in real time.
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Also brought to customers via Business Solutions, REStore can combine this live data with artificial intelligence (AI) to control energy usage and earn revenue in exchange for flexing their grid demand. AI can even learn about the energy consumption of individual machines in commercial and industrial buildings, as well as the roles they play within business or manufacturing processes. This means it can switch machines on or off according to the demands of the grid, without harming the business or manufacturing processes.
Households with their own solar panels (or other generation capacity) may soon sell their excess energy to others. Together with our partners, we are piloting blockchain-enabled commerce in Brooklyn, London and Cornwall. The platforms analyze and track where each unit comes from, who sells it and who buys it, without an energy supplier as an intermediary. Blockchain could also open up the possibility for electricity producers to donate their excess energy to their local school or hospital.
And technology such as smart home devices, micro-renewable energy, energy storage and even electric vehicles are making it much easier for homeowners to not just understand their energy use, but to manage it – either at home or remotely.
A smart house with its combination of smart devices, energy management, remote diagnostics and home monitoring is designed to make everyday life easier, save money and make energy consumption more efficient. This can play an important role in reducing the carbon footprint. “I always thought that smart technology was complicated, expensive and something that only ‘techies’ wanted in their homes, but now I’m totally addicted to it.” Howard Griffiths – Channel 5 presenter
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He is an avid supporter of the English Premier League and international tournaments such as the World Cup. Although he wouldn’t describe himself as a technophile, the fear of missing important moments in matches has driven him to fill his home with technology.
“I used to constantly wait for ‘dull moments’ during matches, wait for the right moment to leave the room and then sprint back to make sure I didn’t miss anything,” says Griffiths, a TV presenter on the Channel 5 in England.
But stepping away from the TV to carry out household tasks such as turning on the heat, answering the door or taking his dinner out of the oven, he invariably missed key moments in some of the biggest games in Premier League history.
“Tottenham had dominated the first half so I thought it was over and I was sure to leave the room, turn on the heat and put something in the oven for later. I wasn’t away from the TV for long but I came came back to find Man U had completely stolen the game. Everyone at work was talking about it and I still can’t believe I missed it.”
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By embracing smart home technology, installing devices such as a camera on his front door, a thermostat and an internet-enabled oven, he is making sure this never happens again.
“I always thought smart technology was complicated, expensive and something that only ‘techies’ wanted in their homes, but now I’m totally addicted to it,” he says.
The devices around his home can be controlled via a smartphone app or a virtual assistant like Amazon Alexa – meaning he no longer has to leave his armchair during a match.
Griffiths is not alone. Research from Berg Insight reveals that the number of households in Europe using some form of smart technology is expected to grow by 54% between now and 2020.
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In North America, where a higher percentage of households already have smart home technology, adoption growth is expected to increase by 31% over the same period.
And as more and more people adopt smart home technology, the number of tasks and services it will be used for is also expected to grow. To date, early adopters like Howard still use smart home technology only for their own comfort. But we will soon see services emerge that are much more essential to many people’s everyday lives.
Today, about 10% of homes in North America and 2.4% of European households have some form of smart home technology. The most commonly owned items are smart thermostats, lighting and speakers with virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Anna Gustavsson, Global Head of Propositions at Hive, says that smart technology, including the use of smart meters, gives customers much more control over their energy consumption.
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At the same time, the growth in popularity of virtual assistants is helping to encourage households to adopt more smart home technology, says Gustavsson.
“One of the things that has made a big difference in the last 12 months is the role that voice platforms are starting to play, giving people a new interface to interact with their home,” she says.
She adds that this voice technology “captures the imagination” and “helps drive people to be more open to trying and experimenting with how technology can help change their lives.”
As consumers use more smart home technology, these changes in people’s lives will become more noticeable. Companies like Hive have set out to create a smart home ecosystem of multiple devices capable of talking to each other and a platform capable of learning behavioral patterns.
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This interaction between devices makes it easier for them to learn user preferences, as well as to detect any irregularities in behavior, such as the sound of broken glass or a dog barking during the day, or changes in the heating output of a boiler. These units can also be connected to external services, such as those provided by British Gas, meaning that if heating performance drops, an engineer can be called to inspect and repair the boiler before it fails.
Whether they’re like Howard, who answers his front door from his armchair or controls their thermostat from a smartphone app to be more energy efficient, most people using smart home technology today do so for convenience.
However, there is a growing segment of the market that uses smart technology for more than just convenience – it helps them reduce worry and gain peace of mind.
“One of the really exciting use cases to come out of the smart home is to offer customers security when they’re outside their home,” says Gustavsson.
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For working parents, this peace of mind can come in the form of sensors and cameras that alert them via their smartphone that their children have arrived safely home from school.
And for pet owners, Gustavsson says, cameras and sensors can help customers monitor their animals when they’re away from home.
“Our Hive Hub 360 product allows you to get an alert if your dog barks,” says Gustavsson.
“You can go into the app and listen to see if it appears to be excited barking.”
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For people living in cities, the smart home can mean not only connecting with the home externally, but connecting the home with services that make their busy lives easier.
For example, Hello Alfred is a digital concierge that allows busy urbanites in the US living in managed buildings to order everything from home repairs to laundry, cleaning and watering the plants via a smartphone app.
“This in-home service platform is a first,” says Michael D’Aurizio, Investment Manager, Ventures in Innovations. “We invested in them because we love their fresh approach to combining intuitive technology with a very friendly, warm service to their customers.”
“Hey Alfred leads a new category in home shopping. They’ve really shown us that being a technology-driven company doesn’t mean you’re not human.”
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The expanded capabilities of connected products and services suggest how the future home can be fully integrated with all elements of a person’s life.
But for that to happen, people’s fears and reservations about technology must be removed. Smart home technology is still very much at the ‘early adopter’ stage, with those using the technology in North American and European households still largely in the minority.
For the majority, the usual barriers such as price play a role. But there are additional concerns. People worry about how smart technology can affect their privacy and they worry about losing control over smart devices that can make decisions
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