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Focusing on Future Homes with the Green Building Council of Australia

Focusing on Future Homes with the Green Building Council of Australia

Vista Power Technologies is officially here to help when it comes to developing Australia’s smart, sustainable, and connected new homes.

As of July 2020, we have proudly joined the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) as a Future Homes Associate Partner.

What does this mean? It means we will be working closely with the GBCA as they set the new standard for sustainable, comfortable, and healthy homes in Australia through their Future Homes program.

Why Future Homes?

It’s expected that over half of the buildings that will exist in 2050 will be built after 2019, so Australia has an incredible opportunity to develop new standards in green living. Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is the not-for-profit industry association that developed the Green Star rating system. GBCA’s vision is to create healthy, resilient and positive places and it brings together over 550 industry companies, investors, and developers as well as local, state, and federal governments to lead the sustainable transformation of the built environment.

GBCA’s Future Homes program is setting a standard for newly built Australian homes that will be:

  • Comfortable and healthy to live in, created with products that are better for us.
  • Resilient to potential future climate change, including water efficiency and design that takes future changes like fires, floods, and heat stress into consideration.
  • Efficient and powered by renewables, to create a net zero energy home to the advantage of residents and the wider community.

How we are getting involved

GBCA is consulting with the wider industry to develop this future-proof standard, including Vista Power Technologies. We will be providing feedback on the possibilities and benefits associated with real-time energy monitoring and smart control of loads and appliances in households. We will also be developing a standard solution for households using the Smappee Infinity system, which opens up the options for IoT-connected (Internet of Things) devices and can be used for live sub-metering.

VPT Managing Director Sam Frost says that Future Homes presents an exciting opportunity to optimise the way we design and plan our homes. “It has become extremely obvious over the last few decades that we need to improve the way we consume natural resources and interact with energy to reduce our negative impact on the environment. We need to ensure our planet remains liveable for our future generations, including the wildlife we share it with. We need to actively implement strategies to slow and even reverse the damage that has been done to our planet.”

“The Future Homes program is one way we can work to minimise our day to day impact on the environment by using smart and proven technologies to reduce emissions whilst maintaining a comfortable home environment. By implementing certain ‘Green’ technologies we can also create opportunities to save money by reducing energy costs.”

So how does smart energy monitoring fit into Australia’s future homes?

In a big, big way! Home energy monitoring systems (HEMS) will be key in reaching the net zero energy vision for new homes. They can help to identify high-use appliances, provide detailed insights, and control of home energy usage, and cut power bills in a time where electricity costs continue to increase.

Home energy monitoring can also open up an exciting world of possibilities for connected and IoT devices; allowing control over lighting, air conditioning, entertainment systems, smart speakers, connected appliances, electric vehicle charging and more.

The Telsyte Australian IoT@Home Market Study 2019 found over half of Australia’s households already had at least one IoT home product installed by the end of 2018. It is also expected that each Aussie household will have more than 37 connected devices by 2023, with around half of those devices IoT-connected.

Telsyte’s survey showed that almost a third of Australians want to modernise their home to make it smarter.

As Sam says, “What I think we will see in the future is a standard of homes that provide a high level of comfort and liveability, whilst requiring minimal energy from fossil fuels, along with utility bills that are a fraction of what they cost today.”

How you can create your own smart home

Smart home energy monitoring is not just for brand new homes, apartments and townhouses – it’s also incredibly easy to have your electrician install a system in your current home. The Smappee Home Energy Monitor or Smappee Infinity System is an ideal entry-level option to monitor real-time energy consumption, while the Smappee Infinity system opens up even greater options for connectivity and energy management. The Smappee Switch can be added to either solution to provide easy and remote appliance control, as well as a number of additional options such as gas and water monitoring. Simply get in touch to tailor a solution to suit your needs.

Learn more

If you’re looking for more information about GBCA’s exciting Future Homes initiative, you can follow this link for more details? 

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Save Through Smart EV Charging with Smappee Infinity

Save Through Smart EV Charging with Smappee Infinity

Australia, let’s get smarter about using solar and off-peak power to minimise the costs of EV charging

Anyone who owns or is interested in electric vehicles (EVs) probably knows that the running costs can be significantly lower than vehicles running on petrol, diesel or LPG. Servicing requirements for electric motors can also be minimal compared to internal combustion engines, which translates to further cost savings for owners. That being said, there are still big opportunities – and exciting ones at that – for EV owners to further save with smart charging, both in charging costs as well as in an environmental sense.

First, let’s consider Australia’s changing power environment

Liquid fuels have served a purpose as an easily transportable source of energy for many years. They allowed for significant growth during the industrial revolution and made many industries that we rely on today possible. The impact to the environment, though, has been less than desirable, and the practice of using fossil fuels as a primary source of energy in industries is simply not sustainable.

With improvements in battery technology we’re now seeing a shift where renewable energy can be stored and used on demand, along with the ability to use other less damaging forms of fossil fuel such as coal to indirectly power automobiles. With the progress of renewable energy production including wind, solar and tidal power being implemented across the world, our reliance on coal is also reducing and this will continue over time.

Where EVs come into the picture

Australian households and businesses are increasingly starting to look to electric vehicles as an effective way of reducing reliance on damaging fossil fuels. It’s been calculated that the carbon emissions of an EV in Australia could be around 18% lower than those of a fossil fuelled car when using average grid electricity. When we add in the factors of renewable energy and battery technologies, these can lead to even lower emissions. Just ask New Zealand, whose EV emissions could be 62% lower than those of fossil fuelled cars because so many of the country’s energy sources are renewable.

Smart use of renewable energy can also have serious benefits for the hip pocket

Where EV owners are producing the renewable energy themselves, for example using solar panels, each owner stands to significantly save on their charging costs. In addition – owners can use their smart charging system to only charge at off-peak (and therefore low-cost) times from the grid, further slashing their charging costs. Smart EV charging simply makes sense!

Smappee Infinity provides a revolutionary solution when it comes to smart EV charging

By installing a Smappee Infinity system, users can optimise the use of self-produced solar power and also prioritise using lower-cost off-peak power, to maximise the already-significant savings that can come with owning and operating an EV. Here’s how.

Smappee offers flexibility for smart EV charging. By integrating directly with Smappee’s new EV Base charger or a range of supported third-party chargers, the Infinity system together with the Genius gateway can dynamically change the charging output to maintain a manageable rate of charge.

Current third-party EV chargers that integrate directly with the Smappee Infinity system are as follows:

  1. Alfen
  2. EVBox
  3. GreenFlux
  4. KEBA
  5. Powerdale

Maximised self consumption of solar power

Planning to use surplus solar power to charge your vehicle? Using its smart metering technology, the Infinity system can monitor the level of solar power exported to the grid and vary the EV charger output to only use excess energy.

Prioritised use of off-peak (and low cost) electricity when solar power is unavailable

Wake up to an ideally charged vehicle and a lower bill! Where the site operates on time-of-use electricity tariffs, the Infinity system can review the current and future electricity rates and prioritise the use of off-peak power to complete charging to a user defined level, e.g. 100km by 7:30am.

Demand management to protect site or circuit overload

The Smappee smart EV charging feature also includes demand management capabilities. This means that it will limit the amount of power the EV charger can draw to ensure the site does not exceed its overload limit. This is ideal in the case of running an EV charger at the same time as other electrical appliances and lighting, or where multiple EV chargers are installed with a combined maximum load which is greater than what the supply (main circuit breaker) can support.

Direct switching of EV chargers and other appliances

In addition to Smappee’s smart EV charging feature allowing for dynamic load control, users can also directly switch power to their charging station or other household appliances. This is possible with the Output Module used to control switching of whole circuits, or the Switch (16A) which plugs in to the power point and provides both control and monitoring capabilities.

Using this method will still allow users to automate the use of excess solar for charging and other purposes, however, it would not have the capability to vary the load on an EV charger.

So why choose Smappee Infinity for smart EV charging?

Understanding your energy

Not only can you keep track of exactly how much power your EV is using and the associated costs, but you’ll also be able to gain many other insights into energy usage. The Smappee Infinity system can monitor all of your electrical loads providing a detailed consumption, production, and cost analysis, allowing you to fully understand how your home or business is interacting with energy.

Controlling your EV charger & other circuits or appliances to maximise savings & revenue

You can open up a world of management and integration possibilities. The Infinity system is capable of controlling individual appliances with the Switch and whole circuits with the Output Module. Control can be managed manually or automatically via the smartphone app, or with third-party integrations including IFTTT, Home Assistant, and custom MQTT (IoT) based applications.

For example, you could choose to only run your water heater with export solar during the day and off-peak power overnight through an in-app automation. Or using IFTTT and a Sensibo smart A/C controller, you could reduce the temperature in your home when solar export is above a certain level. Tech savvy individuals could also create their own control conditions using the Home Assistant application, or develop their own application installed on a home PC or Raspberry Pi.

Saving on energy costs and maximising revenue from export to the grid

By utilising the above smart control capabilities you could significantly maximise your cost savings associated with installing a solar system or EV charger. And by utilising self-produced solar power production, you can minimise the amount of electricity being exported to the grid at the low feed-in tariffs currently offered by most traditional electricity retailers.

In addition to cost savings, there’s also the possibility to increase revenue on electricity exported to the grid. By signing up to an electricity retailer offering wholesale rates you could choose to reduce consumption when the price of electricity is high, increasing export to the grid and being paid at the equivalent feed-in tariff. When you consider the price of electricity can reach levels as high as $15 per kWh for short periods during the year, there’s a significant opportunity to take advantage of this and generate revenue with your solar system. Who would say no to more free money?

If you’re a home battery owner you can further maximise revenue generated by signing up to a virtual power plant (VPP) program, where you can be paid for the use of your battery during peak demand periods. These rewards are typically in addition to the feed-in tariff offered by the electricity retailers. This article from SolarQuotes provides details on some VPP programs currently available in Australia.

Learn more

Considering EV charger options and identifying ways to maximise savings using some of the smart technologies now available can get a little complicated. If you’re looking to learn more about some of the suggestions and technologies discussed in the above article, feel free to get in touch for more information.