How It Works: Home Area Networks

How It Works: Home Area Networks

As demand on the power grid increases and personal budgets are squeezed, utilities are developing methods that empower homeowners to take energy management into their own hands. Through home area networks (HANs), consumers can reduce their electric bills and conserve energy.

Using intelligent, wireless, in-home displays and thermostats, consumers can determine and control the amount of electricity they are consuming at any time of day. They can then translate that usage into price, giving them the opportunity to control costs by managing personal consumption. Through real-time communication with utilities, HANs enable customers to better understand their consumption habits, decide where they want their money to go, and, in effect, reduce their monthly utility bills.

“The devices allow consumers to do a mini audit of their home,” says Matthew Olson, Burns & McDonnell project manager. “They can turn appliances on and off to determine the amount of energy they use and make decisions about reducing their overall consumption based on that data.”

The network extends use of the advanced metering infrastructure that many utilities have implemented through Smart Grid projects. Today, smart thermostats support demand-response programs with real-time feedback. In the future, smart appliances will join the network, allowing customers to alter operating characteristics based on the current system state. The intelligent monitoring systems allow users and utilities to communicate using the devices.

“These devices bring great operational capabilities to utilities,” Olson says. By controlling peak energy demand, utilities can manage their costs and pass that savings on to their customers.

For more information, contact Matt Olson, 816-349-6608.

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