Home & Office

How about your own smarter grid at home?

EcoFactor signs deal to save energy for customers of Texas's largest utility.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Silicon Valley's EcoFactor is moving to automate efficient home energy use. Working with current residential broadband providers, EcoFactor says it can save every home owner and renter 25% or more on their energy use, regardless of how the home is heated or cooled. The only hardware required is a two-way programmable thermostat. EcoFactor then uses the existing broadband connection to monitor the homes temperature every sixty seconds and it makes the complex calculations to determine the most efficient way to heat or cool a home. Tge instruction are sent via Internet to the home's thermostat(s).

They've been running field tests in real family homes in Minneapolis and Adelaide. Depending on the home and the conditions desired by the residents, it may make sense to keep a home around 80 degrees on very hot days and then cool it off an hour before the first family member gets home in the afternoon. Temperatures may be varied depending on external conditions, when the home is occupied, etc. At all times--like car cruise control--people living in the home have complete over-ride ability. But when parents are at work, kids at school, EcoFactor will be monitoring to make sure the HVAC isn't burning up energy unnecessarily.

I recently spoke with company executives. They are most excited about their just-announced deal with the Dallas-area utility, Oncor. EcoFactor will now be available to the three million retail customers in Oncor's service area. As EcoFactor says, the smart gird is more than metering and data. The optimum use of that data is an automated service using software that can rapidly calibrate and calculate the best use of the building's existing HVAC system under all conditions, and under the specific requirements of the occupants.

EcoFactor is pledged to provide Oncor with 3MW of on-demand savings on very hot days. That is aimed at preventing any brown-outs or mandatory shut-downs in the Oncor service area. The other 350+ days when power loads are not an issue, EcoFactor will continue to provide energy and money savings to Oncor's customers. Oncor is the largest electricity provider in Texas.

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