TECHNOLOGY PROFILE - ENERGY Management
Savant Power strives to unite the pillars of any connected environment – climate, lighting, entertainment, security and energy.
By SEAN O'KEEFE
ANNA DEMEO IS PASSIONATE ABOUT ENERGY. As the President of Savant Power, she has put herself in a position to affect change on a broad scale by helping consumers, communities, utilities and regulatory interests rethink the way we energize our lives. Savant Power is a division of Savant Systems, Inc., which along with GE Lighting, a Savant Company, strives to unite the vital pillars of any connected environment – climate, lighting, entertainment, security and energy.
“We are in a moment of big challenges around climate change and energy consumption,” says Demeo, who is also an Associate Professor on the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering at the University of Prince Edwards Island in Canada. “Savant Systems is dedicated to affecting changes that are a win for the environment, a win for improving our utility grid, and a win for the consumer experience across the board.”
"We are in a moment of big challenges around climate change and energy consumption."Anna Demeo, President, Savant Power
Currently, market conditions around energy consumption and availability face significant volatility from several threatening sources. Beginning with increasing consumer needs during peak demand and extending to extreme weather events, a plethora of potential security compromises, and even the instability of fossil fuel prices, electrifying our lives has become significantly less reliable as dynamics have shift- ed. Conversely, the utility grid we rely on is remarkably unchanged from the energy infrastructure being established in the late 1800s, working on a generation following demand model that predates renewable energy options.
“Presently, electrical grids in the U.S. are 97 percent real-time, and only 3 percent storage,” continues Demeo. “Consequently, utility providers have concentrated on tracking energy consumption and ramping up or down to meet needs in a process of generation following demand. Today, we have the technology and growing capacity to flip that to compel a demand following generation paradigm through increased access to renewable energy and smart energy management systems.”
As creatures of habit, in the U.S. most energy utilities see peak residential power demands in the evenings, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Cooking dinner, watching television, washing clothes and powering our many devices in homes strung across America, peak demand occurs when homes are full. To power all these lives simultaneously, energy utilities are required to maintain enough generation capacity to meet demands that only occur for relatively short periods of time.
“The key to solving the demand issue is load management,” says Demeo. “At Savant, we are working to rethink the electrical grid by increasing consumer autonomy through flexible load management. Our inCharge™Power Panel is a complete energy management solution that provides homes and busi- nesses revenue-grade energy monitoring and circuit-level control at the touch of a button.”
Savant’s inCharge Power Panel allows homeowners or businesses to shift energy consumption for things like running the dishwasher, hot water heater, or recharging their electric car to non-peak hours such as mid-day or midnight when there is normally less demand on the grid. In many cases, this reduces the cost per kilowatt-hour by moving use away from higher time-of-use pricing.
While many North American homes and buildings are already enjoying the benefits of renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar arrays or wind farm power generation, the ability to independently store and then harness energy on demand has eluded most grid-connected consumers. With the addition of Savant’s inCharge Power Panel, demand management is placed in the hands of the user in an integrated experience easily controlled intuitively, remotely and reliably. This allows users to make decisions in advance of demand based on knowable considerations like impending severe weather events or pre-programmed times of limited use when the home is all but shut down. Paired with Savant’s mobile app, the inCharge Power Panel allows users to make intelligent energy choices.
“Savant was founded in 2005 and since inception we have been focused on integrating smart home technology and the user experience,” continues Demeo. “From heating, cooling, lighting, entertainment, security and virtually anything else that’s electrified, Savant’s premium smart home systems make whole-home automation and monitoring as simple as possible. Adding Savant power to the equation is an important next step in achieving grid autonomy for the homeowner.”
Consumers are motivated to manage and control their access to energy by three primary considerations – energy resiliency, economics and environmental stewardship. Integrating the inCharge Power Panel into smart homes, smart buildings and smart communities puts the power of choice at the point of contact to achieve beneficial electrification.
Demeo points out that consumers are motivated to manage and control their access to energy by three primary considerations – energy resiliency, economics and environmen-tal stewardship. Integrating the inCharge Power Panel into smart homes, smart buildings and smart communities puts the power of choice at the point of contact to achieve bene- ficial electrification. The ability to adjust consumption based on weather conditions, time-of-use pricing, or access to renewable stored energy as desired is greatly enhanced by Savant Power’s pre-created energy use models – Eco Mode, Vacation Mode and more.
The inCharge Power Panel is designed around the foundation established by standard electrical panels and is quick and easy to install by a certified electrician. Energy use is monitored at the circuit level, and the system can control any circuit of 15 amps or greater. Bluetooth communication eliminates the need for low voltage wiring and interfaces with Savant’s award-winning software for iOS and Android phones.
“Through the development of Savant’s smart home systems, we have already profiled literally ten thousand devices across the full spectrum of electronic devices and home automation technologies,” says Demo. The luxury homeowners were the early adopters of smart home systems, which are now be- coming standard to semi-custom and even production-grade homes. Savant anticipates smart home energy management will follow that trend as well.
In addition to working with individual consumers, Savant is also working with utility providers, smart home community developers, architects, engineers and regulatory authorities to increase awareness of demand management’s many mutual benefits.
“A big part of what we are invested in is sorting fact from fiction, by educating consumers about energy consumption and management so they know what they are buying,” says Demeo. She points out that while most of us understand what a calorie means as a measure of the food we eat, but almost none of us know what a watt means as a measure of energy or the cost to consume.
“One of Savant’s biggest changes is that as ever, we are on the vanguard of a changing landscape, not only for the consumer but even more importantly for regulatory authorities.”
On the design side of things, architects and engineers are most concerned with resiliency – how much power does the home need and how to always have at least that amount. On the regulatory side, the challenge is keeping up with disruptive technology.
“There is a vast array of new and emerging technology being infused into our daily lives,” says Demeo. “The Utility industry has typically been very slow-moving. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Disruptive technologies reshaped tele- communications over the last 30 years or so and there are significant parallels in what is happening in power management and utilities today.”
Savant is in a position to be a part of solution building across all scales – from the individual home to the office building and entire communities of micro-grid connected homes.
“These are exciting times we are living in. Energy consumption doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Savant Power’s goal is to make energy management a win for the environment, a win for your wallet, and a win for everyone else too.”