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The UK Is Charging Ahead With Connected Home Technology Acceptance

A new IoT roll out in homes is going to have a significant impact on energy consumption

11Oct

The connected home has become one of the most exciting developments of the past decade. We have seen fridges that can tell you what’s inside, lights that can adjust themselves to the conditions in the room, and thermostats that can set themselves to the optimum temperature. This is more than just the ‘clap lights’ that became a cult sensation in the late 1980s.

Most of the big tech companies have jumped on board, with companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon all connecting services to either existing smart home elements or creating the hardware themselves. Amazon, for instance, has had its Alexa personal assistant available for a few years in the US and has recently launched in the UK to much fanfare. From the app, you can tell Alexa to turn on lights or turn up temperatures or ask the same kind of questions you would be able to type into Google.

All of these elements are really exciting for the individual and can have a profound impact on energy consumption and efficiency around the home, but until now they have had limited effect on society as a whole. However, new technology that has been implemented across the National Grid in the UK could change all this.

The idea behind it is that these smart devices are connected to a central controller in power stations across the UK. This can then have some control over appliances in order to make slight adjustments that allow for differences in national energy use at specific times. For instance, it may turn up a freezer by 0.5 degrees during the night in order to utilize spare renewable energy or water heating could be turned up or down by a fraction for similar reason.

This technology will have a huge impact on power use across the country, allowing for slight, almost imperceptible, changes to appliances in people’s homes that then have a huge effect on power consumption over a large area. This is a particularly important time for this type of technology to become more prevalent too, given the current struggles that many countries are having with providing enough energy, and most importantly, using renewable energy in an effective way.

To use a sporting term, it is the epitome of marginal gains across a huge area. A 0.01% change in the energy consumption of one house is not going to have any kind of discernible impact across a country. However, if you were to make this 0.01% change in millions of houses, the impact would be huge. As the number of smart devices being bought is growing (Deloitte predict that a typical family home with contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022 for instance) these types of projects will become increasingly popular around the world. It negates the need for building new power stations and using traditional fossil fuels to make up for power deficits from renewable sources.

One of the most interesting elements of this system is that unlike previous smart schemes, like smart meters, the data utilized is totally anomalized, so there is no danger of data theft impacting millions of homes. It is also being trialed in commercial premises initially to make sure that the system is working effectively, before rolling out to include public and residential areas.

This is one of the most powerful uses for the IoT that the public has seen so far and is therefore it is essential that it works properly and benefits them. If they can see their energy bills reduced, the number of power stations decreasing and reduced environmental impact, then it will set the future of the technologies on a stable ground. From what we have seen about this development so far, it seems like they have started off strongly. 

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