Home Energy Management Systems: A Comprehensive Guide

Why do I need a home energy management system?

In the UK, the average cost of a year's gas and electricity has reached over £1200 per household. An annual oil heating bill can reach over £1300. As prices are predicted to rise, consumers are looking at ways to save costs and one of the best ways to make these savings is to invest in an energy management system.

By setting up a system which is programmed to know the family's schedule and their preferred settings as well as monitoring the temperature, users have reported significant bill reductions. The average bill fell by around 25%, but savings have been as high as 60%. On an average oil bill, this would generate savings of £300 per year.

energy efficient home

What is a home energy management system?

A home energy management system is a device that can be installed in your home to help you monitor your energy usage and advise you on how to reduce both energy wastage and money on energy bills. Software can also help to manage hot water and boiler systems more efficiently by taking into account the thermal features of the home, the weather outside and how much hot water the occupants use on average.

Home energy management systems also incorporate Smart Meters, which are the newest kind of gas and electricity meters. These devices regularly collect information about how much gas and electricity you are using, thereby eliminating the need for gas and electricity meter readings.

Another cost benefit of an energy management system is for home owners who are away from home in the winter. The system can help prevent pipes freezing. The survey also showed that once the system was set up it was low maintenance with most customers interacting with their system less than four times a week.

In December 2009, the UK government decided that all homes should have a Smart Meter installed by 2020 at the latest. An accelerated approach has been advocated since 2010, suggesting that energy management systems may be rolled out quicker than expected. Some energy suppliers such as British Gas have already started installing smart meters in people's homes, although the official date for this to begin is summer 2012.

Advantages of Home Energy Management Systems

Domestic housing is estimated to be responsible for 29% of all carbon emissions produced in the UK, so being able to accurately monitor and therefore reduce energy wastage is a big environmental bonus. Home energy management systems also allow homeowners to cut the cost of their energy bills and make a profit on any electricity generated themselves.

The UK has a legally binding target as part of the Kyoto protocol to cut greenhouse gases by 12.5% by 2008-2012, so home energy management systems is also beneficial to the government.

How much does an Energy Management system cost?

As discussed earlier, many houses are being provided with a home energy management system free of charge as part of government or company schemes. Every house will have a Smart Meter by 2020. However, if you can't wait that long and want to get your hands on one now, some energy suppliers are taking requests for accelerated installations according to demand. Home energy management systems are also available to buy online, with prices ranging from £15 to £60. .

Installing the System

Installation should be carried out by a specialist trained fitter; the length of time to complete the work will depend on the size of home and sophistication of the system. All components of the system must be compatible to work together. Getting quotes and seeing testimonials from suppliers is advised to make sure optimum results from any system can be gained.

As well as making long-term energy plans and lifestyle changes, you may wish to consider going a step further with your energy management and investing in something like solar panels. Solar panels could give you considerably more freedom and control over your energy consumption, with the added bonus of possibly making you some money by selling on any excess energy your panels produce. to get quotes or find out more simply click here

Compare energy management suppliers

Opower Software

American company, Opower is making its first steps into the UK energy market by collaborating with British power supplier First Utility. The introduction of their new home energy management software will give all customers of First Utility who currently have access to smart meters, an extended range of energy saving solutions to apply to their households.

The software collects and assesses the data taken from the smart meter before translating it into a readily available report which can be accessed by the customer through an application of their choice; by e mail, SMS messaging, via the web or in the form of a printed document through the mail.

Most HMS experts agree that by providing the consumer with real-time, accurate information about the amount of energy they are not only consuming, but more importantly, wasting, the householder can take a more active stance in their reduction on energy demands than by the use of smart meters alone. The introduction of the software to provide a more 'joined-up' strategy to EMS has opened up the market to a much wider audience.

BizEE Software Ltd

This UK based energy management consultancy has been delivering effective and innovative solutions in the management and reduction of energy use in both the domestic and commercial sectors since its inception in 2005. From their headquarters in South Wales, they are constantly developing their range of EMS strategies and have now launched their new Energy Lens software onto the market.

Energy Lens has been designed to work with a household's existing smart meter (or interval meter) and functions by using the collated data from the meter, not the actual unit itself. This means it is a completely stand-alone system which requires no connection to any hardware.

The software has been developed to be an add-on to the Microsoft Excel package and, once the smart meter has opened a CSV file on Excel and exported all of the stored energy use data, activating the Energy Lens software will analyse the collected information using it to construct visual solutions for the reduction of the energy consumption within the home.

Energy Lens will use the data to identify any regular patterns in how the energy is being consumed by linking the usage to the powered appliances within the home and pin-pointing the times of peak demand. A detailed analysis can be made by providing the householder with a visual record of their energy use and offering solutions for the potential to make reductions. Changes in habits and behaviour can thus be implemented, saving energy and reducing costs.

The Solent Electronic Home

Based in Southampton, Solent Electronic are dedicated to delivering the benefits of a home integration system to all; offering cost-effective solutions for the management of energy consumption within the home.

Their team of highly qualified and experienced installation experts and project managers bring their accumulated knowledge of the industry to their customers; designing, installing and maintaining their systems, while delivering the potential to substantially reduce energy consumption and carbon footprints.

They have a raft of applications for the effective management of day to day household services. For instance, their Lighting Control System is a fully automated module which can be programmed to control each individual lighting source. It will ensure that an appliance is only in use when needed and can be activated by iPhone or iPad, via a PC or vocally.

Their Heating Control System allows the householder to programme their energy output more effectively. It has numerous settings including 'occupancy', 'sleep' and 'vacation' applications which can be adjusted to provide heat only when needed and at the appropriate levels. The system can be adapted for use with most home heating methods; wood burners and fossil fuel, ground or air source pumps or solar energy.

GEO, Green Energy Options

Founded in 2006, and with locations in Cambridge in the UK and in Potsdam, Germany, GEO are one of the industry's leading manufacturers of energy consumption display modules, selling in excess of 1,200,000 units to date. They are able to offer their customers the most extensive choice of monitors currently available, all of which can be retro-fitted and integrated for use with existing gas or electricity meters.

By keeping the technology simple and accessible to the consumer, with easy to understand displays showing energy usage and carbon emissions, GEO aim to raise awareness of the financial and environmental costs caused by excessive and unnecessary use of energy within the home.

They manufacture a range of displays; from the more basic stand-alone unit which provides general information about how much energy is being consumed, to the more technically advanced 'connected home' model. This display functions by interacting with a 'plug bug' (plug-in sensor) which can be attached to, and used to monitor and control, up to six household appliances. The collected data can be read directly from the display unit or accessed remotely through an internet-bridge capability, allowing for interaction when the house is unoccupied

To find out more about home energy management systems or if you have any questions, give us a call on 0207 424 3132

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