home energy management

We are starting a new project to use Arduino to manage home energy use.

In the UK we spend 16 billion pounds each year on energy, which vanishes into thin air at the end of the day.

For the sake of climate change we all need to start thinking about what we can do about this, and how we can save energy is a good start.

This would require an Arduino, plus shield, plus a few simple components to be dedicated to measure home energy use 24/7.

There will be a website which will have the home energy management and home energy saving advice

The aim is the get as many people involved who can dedicate an Arduino 24/7 and gather the energy management information so we can build a large picture of how Arduino can be used to help save energy in the home.

At the moment I'm interested in feedback as to whether people would be interested in this and being involved...

Please post a reply yo say if you like the idea, would you like to be involved, is the idea rubbish, do you have a spare Arduino you could run 24/7 to manage energy in your home?

At the moment this is for Europe only, but could work anywhere in the world.


do you have a spare Arduino you could run 24/7 to manage energy in your home?

I’m not in the UK, so I wouldn’t be eligible, but…

What, exactly, is the Arduino going to be doing to manage the energy. There is more to managing resources than just knowing how much you use.

For instance, I like clean, dry clothes. Therefore, I need to wash and dry them. That will consume some amount of energy. Presumably, your project would be determining how much that was, although it isn’t clear how your project would do that.

That amount of energy may or may not be related to the type of clothes being washed and dried, the size of the load, etc. A small load using cold water only would obviously use less energy than a large load using hot water. But, how would your project know the load size?

What kinds of energy use are you monitoring? Electricity only? Gas? Other forms?

Well I am an British Ex-Pat living in France, so I count.

I have quite a lot of Arduinos lying around looking to be occupied. Do you need a particular model I.E Uno/Nano/Mega etc. What are the additional parts required.

I am happy to join in the fun. Drop me a PM and we can take this off forum to keep the thread clean if you like.

Cheers Pete.

I am keen to join in and have a spare Arduino nano that I could put to good use. Your project is fairly new but I'm sure more people will join in if they see something "soluble".

I was under the impression that folks in the UK had access to something like this through their power service providers. Maybe Robert Lewellen lied to me or your idea is something different.

Being ambiguous hints your going to try and build a propriety product based on an opensource one. Which is fine but you have to sell the idea to investors not us, so you can do everything internally. That way you can have all your NDAs, Patents and fun stuff. Folks here might been more keen on collaborative development.

If it were open source I would look at the code maybe even help if I could. However I don't currently have use case for a magical energy management system. Though I do have a keen interest in efficiency tech.

P.S. I like the idea of automation more than advice. Rather my gizmo to walk the walk then talk the talk

“As in red Dwarf???”

Yeah that is the guy! though I have to admit being American, I have never seen red dwarf and only his fully charged series on youtube.

not the one I was thinking of but- http://youtu.be/rVnFb7boxkM

I swear he did an interview with bp or national grid with a smart meter also I think but I cant seem to find it.
Maybe I’m imagining things.

Anyhow I’m glad we got the collaborative development question covered, its not a given. Count me as interested.
Give us a place to follow your efforts when things get on the road.

Similar in a way to this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/acrobotic/the-smart-citizen-kit-crowdsourced-environmental-m?ref=search

Might give you some ideas.

Personally: running an electrically powered device to measure electricity use in order to reduce it is a little bit ironic ;-)

Similar in a way to this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/acrobotic/the-smart-citizen-kit-crowdsourced-environmental-m?ref=search

That was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this thread too. Even though they are two different applications.

Personally: running an electrically powered device to measure electricity use in order to reduce it is a little bit ironic ;-)

Yup! So is using gas powered engines to drill for oil. Comes down to how much energy it can help you save, I'm sure the concept is to match it selves power in savings by an order of magnitude.

Actually looking at the kickstarter project in more detail I would say that platform provides some opportunity to be build upon. Maybe mutually beneficial particularly considering environmental data typically directly corresponds with energy usage.

Tough to tell not knowing too many details about the project proposed here.

Naming is the thing you would think to be the simplest part of the process but it always seems to take a good deal of effort. That being said I don't claim to be good at it.

However, I will reiterate something that I have heard Massimo talk about. (i paraphrase) He says " Stop putting duino on the end of everything, I don't think that means what you think it means!" Supposedly several of the concocted combinations of the duino suffix translate to inappropriate terms in Italian.

So heads up, I would eliminate smartduino

I have been also told by marketing people that 2 syllable names are more marketable than three and so on. Though it is hard in practice to get close to this if you have a budget on domain licensing. For instance naming it "Super Polar Bear Saver" may align with the message, be an available domain, and dba but it will make the project a mouthful to talk about.

Completly contradicting what I just said, Footprint Tracker might be a good name. Bigfoot could be your mascot for irony sake. After all if anyone can save a polar bear it would be a Yeti right?

Anyhow, getting the naming out of the way asap is a good idea. In my own project I have been referring to it as an "interfacing device" for a number of months for lack of an official name. That seems to give people the impression that the project is too ambiguous to be all that important. They don't say much besides, "good luck with your interface" until they understand more about it. Which is bad because a name is a opportunity to foster interest and build recognition. When you start to get people tearing the idea apart head to toe before you have made only a slight intro that when you know you've got something right. Unless they are pointing at completely irrelevant issues.

I assume your going to have a watchdog running if you want 24/7 365

drjiohnsmith: I assume your going to have a watchdog running if you want 24/7 365

Please explain what "watchdog" is for those of us not privileged enough to know. (me at least) Thanks


so a system that one can / does re boot fairly frequently, and / or does something not to critical, then you dont need to consider a watchdog.

what a watchdog 'function' does , is keeps an eye on the processor, just like a watch dog does in a house or office .

essentially, its a means of the board / system to recover when 'something' has gone wrong, the equivalent to a computers 'press the power button for 4 seconds' but automatic.

Its a lump of circuit / software that all 24/7/365 systems need,

if you dont have a watchdog, implimented correctly, than when that cosmic ray comes in from space, and clobbers one bit in a register, or one of the combination of states you have not allowed for happens, then at least the arduino goes back to a known condition that you can recover from, preferably automaticaly.

for instance if this thing is up in the roof space of the house, or even outside on a mast, and it goes oops, what do you do, clime up and reset it, cycle the power , what if the board is PV powered and or back up battery, how do you cycle the power if its up a mast ?

HEM, What licence are you going to use/are using? for -software -hardware

(not looking to elicit a bike shed argument, just curious)

Thank you both for the watchdog explanation by the way

thank you, and your explanation sounds better than mine.

the question was more as a touch stone than anything else, if you had come back and said we dont need one , then I would not sign up.

sounds promising,

I'm a system / hardware engineer , but if I can help let us know,

How are you going to uniquely identify the data? ie ID data from a particular household so you can track its progress vs having it get lost in all the other data. How do you then protect the identity of that data?

How are you going to extract temperature difference due to electricity / gas use (ie energy consumption) vs seasonal differences / time of day differences? 30C internal temperature at 4am in the morning in the middle of winter here in Australia, say atop Mt Hotham at 1400 metres is far more damning er educational than 40C internal temperature in the middle of the day in Nairobi in the middle of summer.

I think you need the website set up first. Dispense unique IDs (or stipulate people provide persistent UUIDs as part of their upload) and have people provide something like TZ information as well as RTC information so the data actually makes sense.

My understanding is that the goal of this project is to measure changes as improvements over time.

My gut feel says you don't know what you're doing, despite the convincing sounding user name, and are relying on other people to set this up. Which is fine, but you're really only bringing the idea to the table, right? You don't appear to have a clue what to do beyond that.

I realise this sounds harsh, and hope my contributions show I am not enitrely a negative Nancy, but without strong leadership, a project like this is going nowhere fast.

I'd like some background on who you are and your motivation for the project, etc. All the sorts of things an indiegogo or kickstarter project would have to provide to show people some kind of bona fides.

That's just me.

[quote author=home energy management link=topic=170371.msg1291714#msg1291714 date=1372158526] Next question "How are you going to extract temperature difference due to electricity / gas use" This is not about gas/electricity, this is about energy use that affect home temperature, [/quote]


If it's not about gas/electricity, what other kind of energy are you expecting people are using to heat / cool their homes? Thermonuclear? Geothermal? Oil? Ok oil is legit. ;)

so in the Winter, if you use energy to heat your home, measure that temperature change and send it to the cloud.

How does the system know if it's Winter? What is the change in temperature that you are measuring being compared to?

Seasonal differences will show on the year graph.

Do you have evidence of this, or is it a guess? It's my experience that many people in developed countries have cooler homes in summer and warmer homes in Winter. Seasonal differences imply comparing one thing to another based on season.

Specific temperatures in a geographic location can be shown on a map, so you can compare like for like. This about measuring your own energy use (indirectly) and comparing with others (anonymously) in yoyur area/country.

You could also be comparing a well-insulated house to someone who lives in a tent or a caravan (or a shipping container) from the same area.

Yeah I think you misconstrued me saying "electricity / gas" as meaning you'd specifically measure those items - it was the same as saying "energy use vs time of day / time of year", which is exactly what you then wrote. But that energy IS one of those things, so you are indirectly seeking to measure those things, so to write them is perfectly valid. But anyway.

I'm still curious how measuring temperature is going to measure change in energy use.

Could you provide an example?

Are you saying that if it's Winter and my home is 25C inside, and then next year it's 28C inside, that my energy use has gone up? And if the year after it's 25C it's gone down?

Completely OT, but do you have a breakdown on domestic energy consumption vs industry energy consumption?