People organize rallies, demonstrations, awareness programs to spread and highlight the need of Energy Conservation. When the same person goes back home, his hand first hunts for the Air-Conditioner’s remote. Hence, the problem is people even though press upon the need of energy conservation; they don’t abide it most of the time. This is because convenience is of higher priority than conservation.
There were some techniques adopted by electricity providing companies like increase the cost for per unit consumption , but in this modern world , focusing on an upper middle class his need for utilities is of more concern than the cost involved , hence this didn’t work .So what we need to do is trick the people for conservation.
We have a lot of energy efficient devices these days, but say when a person returns from work on an average in the time between 3p.m-6p.m, they then immediately make A.c’s, dishwashers, ovens pretty busy, it needs to be noted that the same devices are busy too in an average household, this accounts for double the amount of electricity, this period is known as ‘peak hours’. Here loading problem occurs; hence the power generating plants need to have a lot of generating capacity in reserve. For these purpose, ‘peak plants’ were used, but their initial setting, operation, maintenance cost were three times than the normal one. So we can’t force reduce in consumption but we can level it for uniform consumption, which will reduce the unused energy, hence reduce demand and indirectly conserve energy.
When we consider U.S.A, two-thirds of consumption comes from air-conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers. One technique for conservation is using ‘Automated Controls’. Devices such as Thermostats , these devices are ‘sensors’ which record temperature of the surroundings and take proper control actions , these devices can be used in A.C’s and dishwashers. They can sense the max temperature when at afternoon time, we know peak hours are at afternoon, and hence it switches the device off during that time and operates it during night time. Also each device has some time delay to start working, this time delay needs to be reduced so that unused energy is reduced and hence conserved.
But the problem is we cannot command the customers using automation , after all a machine is always at service to mankind , he can use it whenever he wishes , no customer will like control systems when he requires to cleanse his clothes to be worn for a delegate meeting. So what we need to do is we need to blend automation with financial incentives for the customer. These financial incentives brings in dangling cost numbers which creates impact on the part of the customer , that is he is given a discount for not operating at peak hours aided by automation. one such revolutionary method was introduced by the pacific gas and electric company (PG&E), a program by which remote sensing device were set-up near each air-conditioning unit in houses which monitored energy flow, what it did was during peak hours it operated in normal AC mode for fifteen minutes and then used only the blower for next fifteen minutes, hence it reduced the energy involved and hence leveled the energy consumption.
Some other techniques that were adopted were increasing the per-unit rate at peak hours in the ratio of peak to off-peak rate is 2:1 but it was not efficient, as people didn’t mind paying increased cost, to that increase. It was learnt that the cost factor reduced the consumption only when the ratio of peak to off-peak rate was 10:1 but it would give rise to protest from the customers.
Hence as there was no optimum and generalized technique found, companies started taking surveys, they went on an average to certain customer’s house and stuck labels of current drank up by each device on the particular device and educated on the need to conserve on the respect of money, but there were no positive results obtained , but an awkward behavior on the side of the customer was observed .That was , the customer had a trade-off for convenience with consumption , people never compensated luxury for energy consumption. There were few observations noted,
- People turned off refrigerators, computers if it turned out to be too noisy.
- People when they return home on a cold climate, they didn’t like A.C’s to be switched on and also same was observed during a hot climate for Heaters.
- People also lost interest of working on a computer if it had a long boot time.
Hence we need to make in-roads into this feature; we need to reduce the wastefulness of each device, provided it also contributes to hinder the convenience of the customer.
First, let’s come to the User Interface , take it in the case of washing machine .People don’t like when washing machines make a lot of noise , hence we can reduce the wastefulness issue here at the user interface , we know the user interface in a washing machine has different operating modes such as default, wool care , cotton care , delicate , etc; but people seldom use other modes than default because they don’t want to spoil their clothes and also don’t want to experiment with different modes to compare the energy used by a certain mode .A solution can be provided by the manufacturer by which he can select an energy-efficient mode and label it the normal or default mode , so that the user is tricked to operate energy-efficiently.
Second, we need to note that HVAC (high voltage air conditioning) systems contribute to 30% of the total spent energy in a household and oven, televisions contribute to 10% of the spent energy in a household. Hence we need to adopt measures to level out energy consumed by these devices which accounts to efficient operation of 40% of total consumption, we can use thermostats but they are quiet complicated, hence Home Automation was introduced.
Home Automation is a concept by which people can automatically control devices, these devices are one’s like Smart Meter’s which connect to the internet, hence they monitor the point to point change in electricity fluctuations and even the cost changes, and hence accordingly control can be done. One such device is the Smart Switch, which connects to the A.C’s which turns it on and off according to the power fluctuations in the different times of the day.
But consider a home , it has a lot of appliances such as TV’s , fridge , AC’s , washing machines , dishwashers , oven’s etc; . All these devices need to be managed such that energy is spent efficiently, so a more sophisticated technique, comes to the picture where a Domestic Energy Marketplace Server , this server keeps track on the cost , demand of electricity and trade-off to be done at different situations during peak hours , for instance it may automatically program a dishwasher to run after 8p.m when A.C’s are less utilized as people take time off by using it to cool themselves , hence the demand created by a.c’s drop down making way for other devices which is sensed automatically by the server. Another facility provided here is it can sense power plant failures, it happens demand increases and hence the price, which is sensed by the server and it immediately stops machines which account for maximum power such as dishwashers and it intelligently waits till it completes one cycle and turns off, otherwise abrupt switching leads to internal damage.
These Smart Conservation techniques are being developed as inherent software as quoted by the domestic server’s , companies like “Intel” , “PG&E” are vying to make a stand and also future research is going on in this area to track not only cost ,demand variables but also customer behavior and interaction with these devices , so as to provide him with a pleasant comfort level with energy savings , what is required on the side of the customer to have some awareness and understand the need of not energy conservation but at least adopt these devices which make a routine for them in day to day living.