Intel details low-cost home energy monitoring

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Intel details low-cost home energy monitoring

Intel has disclosed details at its Intel Developer Forum of an initiative to help consumers cut energy consumption at home by enabling low-cost monitoring kit and developing standards to create an ecosystem of interoperable products.

Consumers in the US account for about 35 percent of the country's energy portfolio, and providing citizens with detailed information on their energy use patterns could help them to cut back, the firm said.

However, the cost of existing monitoring equipment often outweighs the savings gained through analysing consumption, according to Tom Aldridge, director of energy systems research at Intel, and the company has designed a low-cost wireless sensor that anyone can install.

"It's a prototype system to identify savings at low cost, using computational signal analysis of the AC line, with a low-cost wireless sensor that communicates back to the consumer's home network," he said.

Intel's prototype plugs into a wall socket and uses Wi-Fi to communicate with a PC or other system in the home.

However, Intel's research suggests that monitoring alone is not enough, and needs to be part of a larger solution to get consumers onboard.

"You need a rich environment to help manage the complete home," said Aldridge, which includes operation of home appliances and other uses.

A typical middle class home in the US could save US$400 to US$500 a year on energy bills by using such a system, according to Intel.

Aldridge said that Intel Labs is working with the industry and bodies such as the IEEE to develop standards for home energy management.

"There are no standards to manage energy now, but all the parts need to work together, and we need the ability for customers to buy products from multiple vendors," he said.

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