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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.

PowerNet understanding new energy technologies through the Smart Energy Home tenants.

Smart Energy Home tenants (L/R) Corey Beams and Will Thomas

Click here for a mid-year update from the Smart Energy Home tenants.

PowerNet Smart Energy Home – 2020 Q and As

Residents: Flatmates

Will Thomas, 30 , Industrial Electrician

Corey Beams, 21, Farm Worker

What was the most immediate feature of the smart home that stood out to you?
Will: “The hot water heat pump is great, we’ve never had issues with it. It’s generally pretty hot, pretty instantly. It’s probably about one-third of the cost of heating water in a hot water cylinder.”
What has the electric vehicle (EV) been like to use?

Corey: “It’s been great to use – I use it to drive the 54 kilometre roundtrip each day to Dacre for work. It’s a cruisy drive to work, knowing I’m not paying for fuel. The EV has made a massive difference for me, and if I need to use it to go to the gym after work, no problem.”

Will: I use it around town at weekend. The heated seats are quite nice. She’s a good little ride.”

Has your interest in EVs increased?

Corey: “It definitely has and I’m excited to see longer range EV cars coming to the market.”

Have you taken advantage of off-peak power savings by using timers on appliances?

Corey: “We utilised the online app that comes with the Smart EV Charger to set a timer to only charge the EV battery from 12am-5am, which usually is enough to fully charge the 24kWh Nissan Leaf, meaning we can take advantage of off-peak savings.”

Will: “We use the washing machine and dishwasher at night to take advantage of off-peak power rates. Remembering to set timers and delay switches can be an issue. We try to remember to set the timers/delays before heading off to bed, 11pm onwards (off-peak rate time are 11pm-7am) and we’re getting better at it now.”

What have you learned about the solar power and battery storage?

Will: “While the solar is of course weather dependent, the battery generally fills up pretty fast. Most of this stored energy goes into charging the EV at night. When the home battery is full it switches over to exporting power to the grid. That happens a lot.”

What have your power bills been like?

Will: “We were getting a few high power bills at the start because we didn’t really know what we were doing, but it’s better now. It’s been a noticeable change recently. We are saving a lot of money each week. Now we’ve gone through the teething stage. We moved in just as winter started, and it was a pretty cold winter.”

Corey: “That’s the other thing. When we moved in it was more just starting to live properly. When we got a higher bill, we were like, we need to make some changes, because we can see it clear as day on usage figures but once you get charged it on the bill, it sinks in.”

Will: “I like to keep an eye on the dashboard around how much power we are using each day and each month. The monthly usage figure can be an eye-opener.”

Are you taking more notice of your power use?

Corey: “It’s definitely increased my awareness of electricity usage and of how savings can be made.”

What elements of the smart energy home would you consider using in your own home?

Corey: “Having access to timer technology – to save on little things.”

Will: “The first thing I’d look at doing is the hot water heat pump for heating water.”

Would you like to be able to control all your applicance from one app?

Will: “Yeah definitely. You can only manage so much of your electrical usage, but being able to turn wall units on and off remotely would be good.”

As you are both keen wrestlers in their spare time, has the smart energy home met your needs?

Will: “We eat pretty wel and find being able to set the delay on the dishwasher really useful”

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.

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