The Home of the Future: A Profit Center for Residents?

by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Instructor

As the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) states in its report titled The Integrated Grid:

“The role and operation of the U.S. electric power system are undergoing profound changes driven by the spread of distributed energy resources (DER).”

Such changes will enable the residential energy consumer to become a “prosumer,” who is both a provider and a consumer of grid services. Enerdynamics’ latest infographic, the House of the Future, shows elements that will likely be integrated into new homes and retrofit into existing homes. (Click on infographic to print and/or download a PDF version.)

Ener_HOF_No_Boxes_v4

Future homes will use energy-efficient technologies that reduce overall energy usage. These include:

  • highly efficient appliances and lighting
  • a super-insulated shell and energy-efficient windows
  • geothermal heating and cooling that use thermal energy from the earth to efficiently heat and cool a home
  • a smart thermostat that keeps a home at an optimum temperature
  • a home combined heat and power (CHP) system that generates electricity and provides heat for hot water and/or space heating

While a single home will likely not include all of these elements, a mix of just some of them will significantly minimize the amount of energy required to meet desired lifestyle demands.

Once one’s needs to buy energy services from the grid are reduced, the next investment may be in technologies that lower energy costs (or even make them go negative so that homeowners are making money!). This may be achieved by shifting electric demand to times when power is the cheapest and/or by selling electricity back to the grid. This is what turns a consumer into a prosumer. Technologies that facilitate this change include:

  • smart appliances; adaptive lighting; a smart thermostat; a controllable water heater; and an electric vehicle with a battery — all of these allow consumers to time shift their electric usage
  • The previously mentioned CHP system, which provides capacity and electricity
  • A solar array that can also provide capacity and electricity
  • A home battery that can provide capacity, electricity, and regulation services and may also allow the homeowner to time-shift use of power bought from the grid or generated by a CHP system or solar array

Those who take advantage of these technologies’ benefits will want to remain connected to the distribution utility to get the economic benefit of selling these services. This requires a smart meter and a smart inverter that converts the power generated or the electricity discharged from batteries to the level of power quality needed for the distribution system.

All these components won’t run and optimize themselves alone, so a home energy management system (HEMS) is required to manage it all. HEMS users will simply use the convenient home energy app provided by their energy services provider (Google, Facebook, cable/internet provider, electric utility or energy retailer?) to set preferences and the system will then run itself.  Such efforts should result in a reduced energy bill at the end of every month.

Sound futuristic? All of these technologies are available today. But to fully integrate them as described above there must be changes to the electric utility model as well as innovative service providers who pull it all together. In some states around the U.S. and countries around the world, this future is not too far away.

About Enerdynamics

Enerdynamics was formed in 1995 to meet the growing demand for timely, dynamic and effective business training in the gas and electric industries. Our comprehensive education programs are focused on teaching you and your employees the business of energy. And because we have a firm grasp of what's happening in our industry on both a national and international scale, we can help you make sense of a world that often makes no sense at all.
This entry was posted in Electricity, Energy Training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Home of the Future: A Profit Center for Residents?

  1. Pingback: Amazon’s Echo Speaker: Your New Home Energy Management System? | Enerdynamics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s