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Get wiser on energy | The West Australian

Architects and building designers invest significant effort to ensure your new home will deliver energy-efficiency qualities and meet or exceed legislation set down for a minimum six-star rating.

Based on thermal performance, the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) rating system uses various software modelling parameters to consider a range of design, construction and physical factors to minimise environmental impacts and operational costs of running the home. Amongst these costs are utilities such as gas, water and electricity.

Whilst these are invaluable tools for design professionals, builders, consultants and authorities such as local councils, the real litmus test is when you, the homeowner, have moved in to start the next phase of enjoying your brand new home.

In the first few months, often what comes is sticker shock from power bills. Your new home may have air-conditioning throughout, a swimming pool, spa and possibly a larger number of electrical devices.

To offset this, many builders and homeowners are fitting solar PV systems, and battery storage options along with eco-friendly devices such as LED Lighting, and home automation systems, leading the charge to make homes more self-sufficient.

As Western Australia is blessed with sunshine for much of the year, this is indeed a great investment. However, do you actually understand how you and your family are using your electricity in the home?

Schneider Electric has invented a wireless energy sensor that fits to your power circuit breakers inside your electrical board. Called Powertag, this technology can monitor your electricity in many ways.

The Powertag technology was released last year for commercial buildings, and now through its Clipsal brand in Australia, the company has announced a version for residential properties called Wiser Energy.

Not only does it measure how much power you are using on each power circuit in the home in real time, it can also analyse your incoming power from the grid, solar and battery storage and make sense of it all. The sensor works out what energy you are consuming at the time, on which circuit, and also estimates your bill for the month in terms of real dollars or kilowatts.

Using a simple, user-friendly app, Clipsal Wiser Energy gives visibility to your energy trends and allows the homeowner or family to adjust their habits to meet target goals of power usage.

Each day’s power consumption is logged to compare to next month, or next year, and means the family can identify where to save power and the best times to use the solar or battery storage systems if these are in place.

Aside from the Powertag sensors, a Smartlink gateway in the electrical board connects to powerful cloud internet technology to make calculations, predictions and scenarios in relation to your home’s electricity.

Whilst basic energy monitoring itself is nothing new, the significant difference with the Clipsal Wiser Energy system is that it tracks incoming supply voltages very accurately, along with quality and stability of the power supply. Downstream, it also analyses the home’s power circuits for unusual activity and includes a new feature called alarms which alerts the user to impending issues.

For example, imagine you are away on holiday and the kitchen power circuit breaker ‘trips’. This could be due to an electrical fault with an appliance such as a dishwasher, fridge or freezer. With an impending loss of food in your fridge or safety issue at hand, the Wiser Energy system will send an alarm notification to your smart phone or tablet anywhere in the world and lets you take appropriate action to rectify the problem.

It might be an aquarium, swimming pool pump, medical device or critical power circuit where failure could cause potential problems. Being alerted to this occurrence could potentially save hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost goods, damage or downtime.

Schneider Electric believes that this is an example of using smart digitisation technology and analytics, to not only keep the family budget on track but also a key factor in convenience, safety and global sustainable energy use.

Clipsal Wiser Energy must be installed by a licensed electrical contractor and can be fitted to most new and existing electrical single or three phase electrical distribution boards, however requires a hardwired internet connection.

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