Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

Schneider Electric

June 25, 2018

Sponsored by Schneider Electric

Today we are all concerned with the energy we consume within our homes. But how many truly understand the ins and outs of home energy use, and where exactly does the electrician and the development of energy management systems come into play. There is much to consider when discussing home energy use. The consumer first off needs to be informed about energy use, how it is calculated and ultimately billed if they are to make changes to their energy consumption rates. But in terms of educating consumers does the residential electrician have a role? And beyond that are manufacturers developing products designed to help electricians and consumers better understand residential energy use? Throughout this article we will deal with each of these important questions.

In a country that is rapidly increasing its awareness and focus on energy efficiency, consumers are turning to electricians as experts on residential energy use and energy efficient products. It is expected that electricians are experts on products and can inform their clients of modern technology, but is ensuring clients understand their energy use also becoming an expectation for electricians?

To provide a response on the sentiment regarding this question we reached out to residential electricians to get their opinion. We asked if an electrical contractor EIN-SCH-Wiser-1-400.jpgshould ensure home owners have a good understanding of home energy use upon completion of residential projects?

First to note before providing the response rate is that the question identifies that electricians were on site for a project rather than having been called specifically in regard to an energy consumption concern. The purpose of the question was to gain insight into whether electrical contractors find it important to provide this information upon completion of any electrical project. Among our respondents there was an even split in the response to whether it is or is not an electrician’s responsibility to ensure clients under their energy consumption.

The 50% of respondents that do consider this important provided additional information they feel should be discussed. These respondents noted that clients should be made aware of how they are billed and what a kwh is, information on low energy consumption products, when to operate heavy-loads, methods of ensuring energy savings and ensuring that they are aware that certified electrical contractors can help them understand their energy usage and the options available to them.

Several important points have been identified by our respondents, and although all are valuable the point about understanding billing and what a kWh is, is essential knowledge that electricians can easily bestow on their clients. It is understanding these simple facts that will lead to more energy awareness and implementation of more energy efficient applications.

Electricians should be prepared to explain energy use and can also lean upon the utility sector for help in this area. Utility companies like BC Hydro, have developed informative articles designed to help consumers better understand what a kwh is and how they are billed, and these can be an asset for electricians. Read BC Hydro’s article Here 

Resources such as those offered by BC Hydro provide simple explanations about energy consumption, as well as information on understanding kWh’s and how to calculate your energy use and billing costs. This knowledge is now more important than ever, as systems are being developed to address the rising concern regarding home energy use among consumers. It is this base knowledge that is preparing consumers for new systems that are changing the way energy is monitored and used within the home.

Devices-Wiser screen.jpgManufacturers are a big part of that change with the development of new products and systems designed to address this concern. Schneider Electric, for example, has been working diligently to expand awareness of home energy consumption as well as develop energy efficient products and products designed to aid in monitoring and adjusting home energy consumption.

The company is focusing heavily on the use of digitization to educate customers on the use of IoT and Smart automation systems within the home. On a global scale, through forums and various other events (innovation summits, innovation days and roadshows). Schneider educates its customers on the digitization of traditional electrical products and the efficiency advantages they offer.

One of the primary areas of education is on the rise of Home Energy Managements Systems (HEMS). HEMS allow users to monitor energy consumption through live feeds delivering real-time data. This is particularly important for provinces such as Ontario where Hydro prices fluctuate throughout the day. HEMS educate the consumer about their energy usage through these fluctuations and delivers information that can help consumers alter their usage for greater efficiency.

Schneider Electric’s new Home Energy Management System, soon to be released in Canada, is called Wiser Energy and is designed to fully monitor home energy Wiser Family Kit.jpgconsumption. It is even capable of monitoring solar panels and EV charging. Wiser Energy is internet connected and available on mobile devices where energy consumption is displayed in an easy to read energy dashboard.

The product can be connected to any load centre and is an ideal tool for electricians diagnosing energy use concerns as well as a tool that is easy to use for consumers. Wiser Energy can monitor consumption of each device within the home to register which devices, even when turned off, are still drawing power and may be identifying a potential loss of energy, or that the device needs to be repaired or replaced.

If we consider again the knowledge that an electrician can impart on a consumer, the advent of products like Wiser Energy mean electricians can educate individuals about monitoring and controlling home energy consumption. Once in place a consumers’ personalized energy dashboard encourages energy efficiency and peak demand initiatives. Knowing what devices consuming energy at particular times throughout the day are allows consumers to adjust their habits to achieve lower energy consumption.

EIN-SCH-5-400.jpgThe desire for greater knowledge of energy use and products among consumers is growing, particularly as the discussions about Smart homes, connected devices and IoT continue to penetrate the market. Consumers are interested in learning about these products for their home. Affectively as knowledge continues to spread on these topics it will act as a driver for consumers to ask electricians and contractors about these products. Therefore, electricians and contractors need to be well educated on new products and technological developments and be prepared to provide details on each of these, and in doing so will develop a differentiating business model that will position them for the future.

Although, we have identified that there is a split among electricians who feel it is their obligation to ensure consumers have a good understanding of their energy consumption there is a trend in the development of products and social sentiment that will require electricians to provide further awareness of residential energy consumption. And, as we have seen, there are products now in place to aid electricians in monitoring and locating energy usage concerns, that can also be utilized by educated consumers.

A number of the key points identified by our respondents above will play a crucial role in the effectiveness of such products, particularly those points made about ensuring consumers have knowledge of what a kWh is, how they are billed for energy use, how to utilize off peak schedules and education on low voltage products. Schneider has recognized that there is a lot of talk about energy management systems in the industrial and commercial sector, as well as a substantial focus on energy efficiency and Smart homes, but a void has existed in terms of consumer-friendly home energy management systems. The implementation of Wiser Energy, and other such HEMS are filling this void.

As the industry continues to develop, and homes become Smarter, we are going to the see the implementation of more Home Energy Management Systems in the residential sector, obligating increased awareness on behalf of the consumer and increased educational prowess on behalf of residential electricians.

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