Whether or not you’re familiar with the term “energy disaggregation”, you’re likely to start hearing it more and more. That’s because technology companies have been working diligently to fine-tune this new tech, and one has just reached a significant benchmark that suggests it could be making its way into more North American homes in the near future.
The company EEme reports that recent tests prove its ability to disaggregate household energy use with 90-99 percent accuracy.
Energy disaggregation is a means by which the energy consumption of an entire home or building can be broken down into the contributions of individual appliances and devices. Currently, this is done by taking data from smart meters — state-of-the-art electrical meters — and analyzing it with sophisticated software that uses algorithms to recognize the unique energy signatures of different appliances.
By itself, disaggregation doesn’t do anything to improve energy efficiency. But it does give homeowners and utility companies access to data that can drive all sorts of informed energy use decisions.
Accuracy is Everything
Several companies have sought to get into the energy disaggregation market in recent years, including both startups and tech giants like Intel. But while the early versions of the technology showed great promise, tests of their accuracy produced results that were all over the map. As recently as last year, EEme’s disaggregation technology was testing around 70 percent accuracy — not terrible, but not accurate enough to pave the company’s way into the consumer market.
With accuracy closing in on 100 percent, consumers may soon be able to use this technology to determine when the energy efficiency of aging appliances is dropping to the point where replacement is cost effective, or to determine the most energy-efficient time of day to run appliances like washing machines and dryers.
If you can’t wait for this whole-home disaggregation technology to arrive, there are ways you can measure your device-specific energy use on a more limited scale. Some smart appliances have energy data features built-in, and may even have smartphone apps that allow you to track this data at any time and from any place. But not all smart devices have this feature, so you’ll want to pay close attention to product features if you’re planning a big upgrade.
There are also smart plugs that work like electrical adapters that collect and track energy use data. It would be cumbersome and expensive to put these on every outlet in your home, but if you’re especially concerned about a particular appliance — or if you want to experiment with your energy data by moving a smart plug all around your home — this could be a simple way to collect reliable data and make smarter energy choices.
For help improving your energy efficiency, upgrading to smart systems or just for routine maintenance and repairs, turn to your trusted local electricians.