Using Big Data to Reduce Home Energy

October 6, 2011
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Save Energy Big Data 300x152 photo (big data)

Author: Linda Rosencrance
Spotfire Blogging Team

Save Energy Big Data 300x152 photo (big data)

Author: Linda Rosencrance
Spotfire Blogging Team

These days (well actually, any day) everyone wants to save a buck or two on heat and electricity. And with winter coming, you’re probably worrying about just how to do that. Of course, reducing energy consumption is great on the wallet, but it’s also good for the environment.

One way to cut your gas and electric bills is to turn down the thermostat and wear heavy sweaters. But did you know that there are companies out there using big data tools that act as new brains for connected thermostats?

One of those companies is EcoFactor, a startup that claims, on average, its services can cut a person’s home energy use by 17% as compared to a thermostat that’s programmed but not optimized.

And that mean’s 17% off of the cost to heat and cool the home (HVAC usage)..

How does it work, you ask?

The company builds unique profiles for its customers that focus on their individual energy habits, housing conditions, climate and local weather patterns. EcoFactor collects thousands of data points for each customer so it can determine the best temperature for that person’s house, according to a blog in Technically Speaking.

The amount of data that EcoFactor has to collate, process and act on is staggering—the company makes more than a 1,000 micro adjustments to a customer’s thermostat each month in response to the data it collects, according to the article in GigaOm.

But EcoFactor isn’t the only company leveraging big data tools to reduce energy consumption.

Opower, another energy startup, claims its software and big data tools can be used to save one terawatt hour worth of energy – collectively – from all the homes in the U.S. by the end of 2012. One terawatt hour is equal to the energy consumed by 100,000 homes in the U.S. in one year, which means collectively consumers can cut their energy costs by $100 million a year.

“Opower’s smart algorithms collect and crunch utility energy consumption data, analyze it for behavior-changing tidbits, and package the results into a detailed utility bill that can help consumers save around 2% on their energy bills,” according to GigaOm.

Big data is growing every month as is the development of the Internet of Things—devices connected to the internet. In fact, these two technologies sort of depend on each to be successful. More and more devices are coming online—devices like household appliances including thermostats and refrigerators, as well as vehicles and industrial machinery, according to Technically Speaking. And once these devices come online, they can be controlled remotely, talk to each other, share data and respond to data.

As with EcoFactor and Opower, it’s the ability of the devices to respond to data that creates exciting opportunities. Soon our connected devices will be able to respond to thousands of data points and assess the right course of action given certain parameters, according to Technically Speaking. For businesses the results could be unparalleled.

Sure, there are any number of hurdles to overcome, but more and more companies are starting to harness the opportunities presented by big data and the Internet of Things, according to the blog.

And that’s a very good thing for the potential of big data.