A Shocking Revelation in the Future of Electricity and the IoT
Alright, let’s be quick about this. You most likely live in a home. Your home uses electricity. You need electricity. But it’s expensive. And its production is ruining the atmosphere and ravaging the earth. So let’s solve that.
So, let me lay it on the line: the internet-of-things can and will solve economic and environmental problems within the field of electricity and power.
Internet-of-Things Crash Course
Before we dive into an electricity-specific use of the internet-of-things (IoT), let’s learn a little bit more about it.
What is it?
The IoT is essential the communication of devices. Much like how humans connect over the internet, “things” like your refrigerator or garage door can “communicate” via information and algorithms.
Think of the IoT like a bee hive. Every bee knows what to do, whether that be collecting, stirring, or tasting the honey. Each bee knows what the other ones are doing, and the bees can communicate with each other about the speed of their work, what to change in the process to make more honey, and how to do each job more efficiently. The devices in the internet-of-things act like the bees, but instead of communicating by shaking their butts, the devices use math and computer language to communicate.
How does it work?
The best way to explain how the internet-of-things works is to use an example.
So theoretically, your New Year’s resolution is to lose 10 pounds. You have a Fitbit that tracks how much you walk, a fridge that tracks what you eat, and a car that tracks how many times a week you go to the gym. Each of those smart devices collects their respective points of data, but those factors alone can’t determine if your resolution is going to work out. So the IoT uses a low Bluetooth or WiFi frequency to get all of the data from the three devices on a similar level. The data is cross-referenced, interpreted, and organized into an app on your phone, telling you when to do more or less of certain activities.
The IoT uses sensors and smart devices to create data. This data is compiled and sorted to make a user-friendly interpretation. It aids people in simplifying their lives, work, and any other situations involving devices.
Applying the IoT to Home Electricity
Now, to electricity. Everyone wants to pay a lower power bill. Everyone wants to use their energy as efficiently as possible. But beyond money, people need to use the greenest electricity they can to make way for a better and stronger future.
The general concept is to create a system that saves the homeowner the most most money. By using energy cost-efficiently, one can also use energy greenly. This means diving into the two areas that usually drive up the price of home electricity. Besides identifying why these areas are important, we should also look at the logistics of their actual systems.
Part One: Electricity Source
As far as the price of actual electricity goes, typical energy systems (by typical I mean the way you recieve your energy now, most likely coal or natural gas) have money-sucking time of use (TOU) policies. Plus, solar energy systems usually only have certain times of day when they work super well. To create an electrical system that takes advantage of cheap energy, we need to look at the cost/time relation and efficiency relation of both.
1. Solar Energy Systems
Solar energy systems work best under two conditions: ample sunlight and low heat. Now, I could show you tons of graphs and studies of when and where these three conditions exist, but the point of an IoT system is to do all that math and data collection for you. Visible light and temperature sensors can be installed on a solar panel to collect data about how much light there is or how hot the day is.
Here is a simple mock graph of the data taken from the sensors; let’s just say time is x and measurements by 10 units are x, and the green line is temperature while the red is exposure to light. This data will be sent to the IoT platform which can assess if the conditions are good for harvesting energy. When they are, your house will switch itself to using the electricity generated from the solar panels. When using solar panels during their peak operating hours, you will keep your energy bill at $0. Furthermore, your energy consumption will release no greenhouse gases during the times a solar panel is used. And the most convenient part? You do none of the work. The IoT platform makes all the energy-changing decisions with much precision and calculation.
2. Typical Energy Systems
As a back up, typical energy systems can be used. This is during times like the night when the sun isn’t shining. Using standard electricity as a back-up option limits how much you pay for it and how much coal or natural gas gets burnt. The IoT platform will only turn on the standard energy system as a reactionary measure, so no sensors are needed to capture information. The platform will simply switch on the flow and use of typical energy according to when the solar panels can not work.
Even better, the use of solar panels can circumvent TOU policies. For example, the most expensive times of day are 2–7, the red peak section, and sufficient sunlight is accessible for that time as well. Consumers can use free electricity instead of the most pricey electricity during hours like that. It will also be able to take advantage of the cheapness of night hours, the green off-peak section, when solar energy is not available.
Part Two: Appliances
The actual appliances using electricity are also very expensive to keep running for long periods of time.
With the IoT, devices will know when they “are allowed” to use electricity and how much of it as well as when to go into lower power modes. Smart devices and applications would be connected to the same platform written about in Part 1, and each device would be able to read when electricity was free, cheap, or expensive.
During free periods, dish washer and dryer type machines would auto cycle. During cheap periods, your AC would run and make your house the perfect temperature for when you got home. During expensive periods, unused or unnecessary lights on in the house would shut off.
The Growing Importance of This Development
An IoT system that takes into consideration the consumer and the environment is essential to moving forward in energy. A movement to systems like these benefit the consumers, the environment, and the future.
Alright, let’s get some quick math in. So take how much you pay for electricity and divide it by two. Then $13,000 upfront for your solar panels, unless you need a loan (however I do not have enough brain power to calculate everyone’s individual loan and how long it will take for them to pay off their systems).
Solar panels usually take 8 years to pay themselves off, and you will still have to manage your traditional electricity bill. However, month-to-month you will be paying half or less of your usual bill and will have that extra money to chip away at the indent $13,000 made.
Aiding the Planet
Limiting the use of electricity not only helps people’s pockets but also the world as a whole. Let’s say that this system, which is solar panel dependent and puts devices on low power modes, cuts each home’s use of typical electricity in half.
As of 2014, the global industry that releases the most greenhouse gases was the production of electricity. 25% of the world’s emissions came from this one industry. With an IoT system like this, there is a potential to slash that number in half. Humanity could reduce the amount of dangerous emissions by 13%. Now, this doesn’t seem like much on paper, but for CO2 alone, 13% of 36.8 billion (the amount of CO2 emitted) is still almost 5 billions tons.
If that 5 billion tons of emissions stays active in the atmosphere, dozens more reefs would bleach, icebergs would melt, and ecosystems would be lost. Most scientists are practically beginning for the quickest and most immediate reduction of emissions to protect our lives as well as the world. A small step like this has the possibility to drastically decrease emissions now.
Making a Green Transition
Starting with a small step to greener energy sources is key to fully transitioning to green energy on a mass scale. People can only adapt to a system if it adapts to them. Utilizing the internet of things is a perfect way to integrate technologies we already use into a modern problem with a limited time frame for change.
Before You Go!!
Thank you for getting all the way through this, it means a ton to me! If you’re interested in solar panels, the IoT, or anything techy make sure to follow me on here, LinkedIn, and Youtube! Not to mention, I finally have a personal website! Check it out for my previous work AND to subscribe to my newsletter!
Again thank you so much and remember to wash your hands and stay home (woohoo Coronavirus).