The new device to track home energy usage


If you’ve ever suffered from energy ‘bill shock’, there may be help at hand in the form of the new CSIRO-developed ‘Numen’ power-monitoring device.

Perth startup Ecocentric has teamed up with the CSIRO to develop the device that can help monitor how efficient the appliances in your home really are.

The Numen will be able to monitor a litany of energy-using things around the home, including lights, the washing machine, fridge, TV, charging devices like laptops and so on.

Not only that, but the Numen also boasts reporting capability, telling the resident whether an appliance is running as efficiently as it could be, signifying servicing or the need for an upgrade.

While it’s rarely a good idea to buy a new appliance for the sake of saving a few bucks off your energy bill, Numen’s monitoring strength could be good for optimising how efficient various appliances run, like fridges where location and what’s inside the fridge can affect how much power it uses.

Speaking to the ABC, Ecocentric spokesperson Tim Bray said the Numen is a great development, because very rarely do consumers actually know how much energy they are using until the next power bill comes in.

“What Numen will do is really allow them [consumers] to get under the hood in terms of what’s driving the way in which they’re using energy, right down to an individual device level,” he said.

How does the Numen work?

So how does it actually work? Well, this is where the CSIRO comes in. The CSIRO has developed a cloud-based database that allows the Numen to recognise what’s plugged in. This is done through Numen’s ability to take samples at 256,000 times a second, and this ‘big data’ gathered – and stored in the cloud – allows the Numen to recognise usage patterns and powerful energy characteristics.

The sheer amount of data and energy patterns captured ultimately allows the Numen device to discriminate between appliances to deliver the consumer useable information. As for where the Numen device itself lives, it is fitted to a meter box and is compatible with businesses and offices as well as homes.

Of course, like a lot of these technologies, it still relies on the user making changes to their appliances and recognising any energy-wasting habits they may have, including leaving lights on, leaving the fridge door open and so on. In this case the Numen cannot actually reduce your electricity bill as it merely reports on where you and your appliances are potentially ‘going wrong’.

Ecocentric is working on commercial agreements with energy distributors and retailers in both the UK and Australia. As for when the Numen will be released, Perth-based energy retailer Alinta has come on board, but it could be months before it goes to market. Until such agreements are settled, there is no word on price just yet.

Nevertheless, the Numen device is an exciting step in the right direction in a time when power bills seemingly keep going up and up. The message is ‘watch this space’.

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