Researchers at Intel have invented a new wireless device to make the collection of energy data easy and inexpensive for consumers. The experimental, low-cost sensor need only be plugged into the house wiring to instantaneously measure and wirelessly report the power consumption of each electrical load in the home through the voltage drop on the supply. The technology could be easily deployed by consumers to analyse energy usage of devices and appliances throughout a home. Intel demnstrated the system working with several household devices in Beijng this week.
"Consumer empowerment is critical," said Justin Rattner, Intel Chief Technology Officer and managing director of Intel Lab. "Individual consumers must have the information, tools and incentives to conserve scarce energy resources, minimize their carbon impact and keep their energy budgets under control. If we can make energy more personalized with real-time information and offer visual tools that engage entire communities, it will lead to valuable changes in behavior and save staggering amounts of energy." Rattner also demonstrated a working prototype of an Intel-powered home energy display that when coupled with the wireless energy sensor, would monitor performance, recommend solutions for more efficient usages, set goals, and reward success.
The pair of devices forms the heart of a personal energy management system that could help a US household save up to $470 per year in electricity costs. Given that the US has 113 million households, Intel's simplist maths gives a potential saving of over $50 billion a year. However, if only one percent of US households were to realize this savings, it could reduce annual coal demands by 371,000 tons and reduce carbon emissions by 2.4 million metric tons, or the equivalent of taking 535,000 cars of the road.