In Ontario, there is currently no easy way for residential and small business customers to know exactly how much electricity they are using, when they are using it and how much it costs — until they receive their electricity bill.
If they could see how much their appliances cost to run, while they’re in use, customers might decide to change their electricity consumption habits and take advantage of various energy management programs.
In 2012, Alectra Utilities (formerly PowerStream) launched a new pilot program designed to help homeowners and small business customers to better manage their energy costs. Participants were given one of several two-way Home Area Network (HAN) devices to help Alectra Utilities evaluate which one would be best suited to its service territory. With these devices, the participants were able to see how much electricity they were using at any given time, and also see the cost associated with their consumption, based on Ontario’s Time-of-Use rates.
Here’s how it works:
- Participants in the pilot program received a special in-home HAN display equipped with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) wireless technology. A radio signal from their device established a wireless connection between their smart meter and the Alectra Utilities System Control Centre.
- Alectra Utilities programmed the devices to allow participants to receive Time-of-Use electricity rate information in real-time. With this information, the devices were able to calculate the cost of running each customer’s appliances; these costs were displayed for customers to see on a large energy display screen. The devices were also programmed to implement the voluntary energy-management program called peaksaver PLUS.
- Participants who wished to do so could customize their in-home display to provide detailed information about their total energy consumption, how it relates to their carbon footprint and a comparative analysis of typical energy use. They were also able to track the energy use of major appliances, allowing them the opportunity to turn the appliance off, depending on the cost of using it.
The in-home display allows customers to manage their electricity costs based on their ability to see how much energy their appliances are using and when they use it, as well as a total at the end of the month.
The in-home display allows customers who are committed to environmental responsibility to reduce their electricity use by turning down, or turning off large energy-using appliances such as air conditioners, and to do so remotely.
Wireless Home Area Networks Case Study (700KB PDF)