Is a Photo Frame the Way to Smart Grid Home Energy Management?

February 15, 2012

Ceiva puts energy management in a digital picture frame.

Many companies are vying for the smart grid HAN (home are networking) market, producing energy management and monitoring systems that they hope utilities will deploy to enhance energy-saving smart grid services. There are all forms of energy dashboards available for this job, but one company may have the answer to inspiring utility customers to think more about their energy use. And it involves a digital photo frame.

A first glance the Ceiva Energy Display looks like a frivolous gadget. Oh look, someone put an energy manager in a digital photo frame. Cute!  But there’s a reason for it. And the reason is getting eyes on a home’s energy usage. And what better way to do that than with pictures of your loved ones?

The display, which is being made available only to utilities, can intersperse a few basic energy information slides and energy efficiency tips amid the 40 photo slots on the photo frame, and allow more detailed information to be available with a click or two on the unit’s remote control. It’s based on cloud-based digital photo frames made by parent company Ceiva Logic.

The display can show consumption of electricity, gas, or water, as well as how much energy from an alternative source like a solar system is producing.

It has Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity to a home’s network, so it can see what a connected smart thermostat is doing, for example. It can also control other connected devices and has wireless ZigBee and Smart Energy Profile (SEP) 1.1 to communicate with many two-way smart meters being installed by utilities for smart grid services. Cevia’s Energy Display can ping the smart meter every 8 seconds.

Reducing MTKD

The idea of combining energy usage info amid pictures of Mom and the kids reduces MTKD, or “mean time to kitchen draw” that is prevalent when users get over the novelty of an energy monitor and stop checking it.

Wannie Park, Ceiva’s vice president of strategic partnerships, says the Ceiva Energy Display can provide energy info three different ways:

  • Energy monitoring with more comprehensive information available to those who want to drill down.
  • Photo slide show with a few slides dedicated to provide basic energy information and costs and other information the utility wishes to provide.
  • Adding two to three slots per slide show to provide real-time energy data feedback.

Cevia will also charge small subscriptions to its service. That and other pricing will depend on the utility and whether it plans to subsidize the costs.

Ceiva is currently involved in a year-long utility pilot with Glendale Water & Power in Glendale, Calif. Fifty 9-inch diagonal Ceiva Energy Displays were put in homes a couple of months ago, and after technical feasibility tests a second phase of 15,000 will be deployed, before the rest of the population gets 80,000 to 90,000 units, says Park.

Participants in the Glendale pilot can turn up the air conditioning and watch the numbers climb on their digital photo frame right on their kitchen counters.

The interface and energy information homeowners receive via the units depend on the utility’s needs and requirements, Park says.

Also see:

3 Ways to Heat Up Your Energy Efficiency Sales

Report: Building Automation Market to Reach $146 Billion

Catch the LED Wave: An LED Lighting Market Outlook

Homebuilders promoting Energy Efficiency, Net Zero Homes









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