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Smart Energy Home

PowerNet wants to know more about smart energy technologies that mean improved energy efficiencies and savings for our customers.

That’s why we’ve equipped a standard two-bedroom home in Invercargill with smart energy technologies. Technologies that include solar panels, battery storage, energy smart appliances, heat pump powered hot water and space heating, and an electric vehicle with a home-charging station. Partnering with tenants who want to live in our smart energy house, we’re going to continue to learn more about the everyday use of these technologies, their efficiencies and benefits. We want to understand how the new tenants adapt to using these technologies and how their energy use changes. Our innovative Smart Energy Home project is an important step in understanding future energy use trends and their impact

We will continue to gather data that’ll show us patterns in how individual technologies perform and interact. This information will help us plan the best way to manage the south’s electricity assets in the future.

Our Smart Energy Home at 245 Racecourse Road, Invercargill.

Meet our 2020-21 tenants

L/r- Will Thomas and Corey Beams with PowerNet’s GM of New Energy Development & Strategy, Kavi Singh

Will Thomas and Corey Beams are two friends that will be living in PowerNet’s Smart Energy Home this year.

The house is equipped with solar panels, battery storage, energy smart appliances and hot water powered by a heat pump. They will also have the use of an Electric Vehicle (EV) and an app-controllable EV charger installed at the address.

PowerNet GM of New Energy Development & Strategy, Kavi Singh says the PowerNet team is keen to understand user experiences with smart energy technologies, and understand their usage patterns given incentives and tools to do so.

“Apart from the solar panels and battery storage system, the Smart Energy Home also has energy monitoring systems all around the house to help us understand and identify where we can encourage and promote energy efficiencies”, Mr Singh says.

The Smart Energy Home is also equipped with heat pumps for space and water heating.

“A heat pump system extracts heat from air and can be up to three times more efficient in providing heat energy than oil-filled or element heaters”, says Mr. Singh.

The tenants would also see savings from the solar panels and battery storage system, utilising cheap energy generated from the sun, and energy arbitrage by filling up the battery at night during off-peak price and using the stored energy during the peak price times.

They would also see savings from using the EV. At a running cost of $3.60 per 100km, it is about a third of what an equivalent petrol hatchback would cost in terms of fuel.

PowerNet has been operating a fleet of zero and low emission electric vehicles for over two years and will continue to develop insights into their capabilities, uptake and economic value to businesses and residential customers.

In the third year of the Smart Energy Home project PowerNet will learn about how a different customer mix affects the profile and level of household and EV electricity usage, and the interaction between customer, technologies and weather.

“I was so happy and was really hopeful after the interview with PowerNet. We had some great discussion about the Smart Energy Home and since I am an electrician, I definitely had a great interest of how the Smart Energy Home works.” Will says.

For Will and Corey, it will be an opportunity to experience the technologies first-hand and to contribute their own insights about using smart technologies.

They’ll help PowerNet to learn from the Smart Energy Home and promote energy efficiency over the coming year.

Smart Energy Home Features

Our smart energy home is equipped with some key technologies that aim to make living more energy efficient, including:

  • Solar generation from PV panels and an inverter – Using the sun’s energy, solar panels offer a renewable, green source of energy that can be used to power your home.
  • Battery storage – The ability to store electrical energy in a battery means power can be conveniently drawn from the grid when electricity prices are lower without having to change when you use your electricity. If you have solar generation installed you can charge up your battery while the sun shines and then continue using solar energy after the sun goes down.
  • Hot water powered by a heat pump – This can be two to three times more efficient than using conventional electric resistance water heaters. Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. They operate like a refrigerator in reverse.
  • Electric vehicleThese reduce the environmental footprint because an electric vehicle (EV) uses New Zealand’s mostly renewable electricity resource. EVs cost less to run and are quiet to travel in, offering great acceleration and a smooth ride.
  • Electric vehicle charging station – An onsite electric vehicle charging station offers convenience and saves time, as charging can be done at home.

The home also features insulation, LED lighting and heat pumps for space heating. A monitoring and display telemetry system is also installed. This technology will allow us to monitor electricity used by each of the key technologies and gather data that helps us to better understand their contribution to energy efficiencies.

The key goal is to better understand customer perspectives and management of electricity usage and savings.