26 Oct A Guide to Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS)
Individual households play an important role in transforming the global energy consumption to help build a more sustainable world. According to the European Commission, domestic usage of energy constituted 26% of the final energy consumption in 2019. That is almost one-third of the total energy consumption. (Source)
So how can households ensure their energy consumption is sustainable?
With dedicated systems, which include both hard- and software, designed to monitor, provide feedback, and even control the usage of energy by devices in a household. It enables homeowners to save on their energy bills and make their households more eco-friendly.
There are many systems that use energy management to ensure efficient use of energy and provide stable source of power to cater to the energy needs of any kind of infrastructure. Such systems that are only focused on optimising the energy usage in homes are called Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS)
Bringing Energy Management Home
Energy management is a broad subject that encompasses all aspects of energy as a resource.
It is applicable right from the generation of energy to its distribution and final consumption by various kinds of infrastructures.
Since the consumption habits of a house will be very different from how the consumption will be of a commercial or an industrial building, households need their own dedicated energy management systems.
In addition, many smart homes are looking to become self-sustainable by having their own source of energy with solar rooftops. Smart systems, which learn a household’s energy consumption behaviour, are needed not only to ensure to maximise self-generated energy usage but also to make sure the energy supply is not interrupted, safe, and stable.
Integrating Electric Vehicle Charging Poles with HEMS
For homes with electric vehicles and charging stations, there is an additional demand for energy to charge electric vehicles. Electric vehicle charging stations can be integrated into a home’s energy management system with the help of load management. Load management is the adjustment of energy demands for consumption, also known as, “load” in the energy industry.
There are two kinds of load management that can be applied to have a household capable of charging electric cars without any disturbance to the home’s energy usage. One is static load management, in which the requirement or ‘demand’ for energy for the purpose of charging electric vehicles is set aside. This makes the energy unavailable to the rest of the home appliances for their usage.
The other method of load management is dynamic. In this method, all the energy sources that are available for the house are considered. And then, depending on the current requirements of energy for the household, an appropriate amount of energy is passed on to the charging stations. This ensures the current household needs are not interrupted.
Clearly, dynamic load management offers more flexibility and is better for integrating electric car charging stations into HEMS. With an intelligent hardware-software system for energy management, such dynamic load management is possible to make the energy supply reliable, while ensuring optimal energy consumption.
How do Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) work?
A home energy management system is a combination of its hard- and software components that work together to efficiently manage the energy usage of a home. The HEMS functions at the intersection of three different sectors within a home: home appliances, metering, and communication network. (Source)
The primary piece of hardware is the central unit of the HEMS that is crucial for the system to function. This unit is installed on the main electrical switchboard of the house that is responsible for distributing the power within the house. It acts as the central point for all the communications and data transmission between energy management devices, the user, and household appliances.
Other than this central unit, there are other hardware components that can improve the features of a HEMS. Energy management devices such as photovoltaic batteries, smart meters & switches, sensors etc. also come under the hardware that is a part of HEMS.
The software in a HEMS regulates the data and communications from the devices and the user. It utilizes the communication network to relay the information between the HEMS, supplier, and user. Apart from this, the software also consists of an algorithm that is designed to analyse the energy consumption data and look for opportunities to optimise it.
Its definition can also extend to the part of acting as an interface between the user and the HEMS. It sends the information gathered from the devices on energy consumption and provides feedback and suggestions for energy conservation based on the data. While it can take input from users and send the command to the devices.
Moreover, it can allow for various functions that enable the user to have better control over the energy usage by the appliances in the home. For example, time-based or conditional rules to control devices or the source of energy used for appliances. For more sophisticated systems, the use of machine learning / artificial intelligence (AI) makes the system much smarter and enhances the energy efficiency of the household.
Join the HEMS revolution
HEMS provide great opportunities for control of one’s household energy usage by enabling users to track their energy consumption, communicate the information to them and other devices, and act on received instructions.
As the technology advances, even more, sophisticated devices and algorithms will be integrated into HEMS to ensure the best possible steps to make a home energy-efficient and reliable. And homeowners can not only save on energy bills but play a valuable part in the sustainability movement.