iPhone App Measures Carbon Intensity of UK Electric Grid
Engineers at the University of Southampton in the U.K. have developed an application for Apple’s iPhone that allows users to monitor the U.K.’s electricity grid, the site alphagalileo.org reported on Thursday. The app, called GridCarbon, was developed by Drs. Alex Rogers and Perukrishnen Vytelingum, and Prof. Nick Jennings at the university’s School of Electronics and Computer Science. When downloaded to an iPhone, GridCarbon enables users to monitor the grid’s carbon intensity—the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when one unit (1 kilowatt hour) of electricity is used by a consumer.
Rogers said that, “The app shows people how using appliances and machinery at different times of the day can reduce their carbon footprint.” For example, running washing machines and dishwashers overnight rather than at peak evening hours can reduce carbon emissions by as much as 40 percent, depending on the time of year.
“While developing this app, we were surprised at how much the carbon intensity of the grid varies at different times of the day, and between different days in the week,” said Rogers.
The GridCarbon app is not the only way to see how energy in the home is used at certain times. Whirlpool, Best Buy, energy reseller Direct Energy, and developer OpenPeak are planning to launch an energy information display, called the Home Energy Management (HEM) center. The HEM was unveiled at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday. The device will use an open platform that uses smart meter data, and it will be compatible with Whirlpool smart energy dryers and Lennox smart thermostats.
Although a smart grid has yet to be implemented in the U.S., such an infrastructure is likely to be completed, and several local smart grid projects are under way in cities across the country. Such projects encourage the development of technologies including the HEM device and GridCarbon app.
GridCarbon’s inventors are currently studying the use of computerized agents to operate smart electricity meters in support of the U.K. government’s initiative to have smart meters in all British homes by 2020. Said Prof. Jennings, “We are developing agents that can ‘learn’ how much energy a building or home uses, and which can then make predictions and decisions about cost-effective energy use. We have already proved that agents can be used to haggle and resolve conflict, trade on the stock market, and cope with disasters; our next challenge is to incorporate them into smart electricity meters.”