How the Internet Enables Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficiencyWeb-enabled lighting systems are dramatically lowering energy use and saving building managers and consumers money while cutting peak power demand.

According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, everything from LED lighting to home appliances can have their energy consumption cut dramatically by devices that resemble or act like a smart phone. In one fell swoop, a warehouse cut its utility bill by 90 percent through a combination of LED lighting and a “smart” energy management system that offered features as simple as dimming lights as soon as passersby walk outside of their range.

In an example cited by the Monitor, the warehouse results were unbelievable to the building owner and the utility. Annual electricity costs at the 177,413-sq-foot warehouse dropped from about $50,000 a year to less than $5,000.

A class of buzzwords has grown up around Internet-enabled efficiency, like “intelligent efficiency,”  “cleanweb,” the “soft grid,” or the “enernet.”

A holistic approach to efficiency is enabled through Internet communications, inexpensive sensors, and data analytics.  Instead of designing a superior bulb, the question now asked is how to design networks that function across an entire building, or even a city. The light can account for half of the savings, but Internet technologies control individual lights as part of a network.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient economy even weighed in with a report, that says “intelligent efficiency” can cut consumption by 22 percent.

Academics, scientists, and politicians have long championed the efficiency solution, but they have to confront an unintended consequence: if energy efficiency succeeds and makes electric power cheaper, how does one counter the temptation to then use even more of it?

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