Reducing CO2 Emissions at Home

20 Aug

Climate change can be attributed to several factors associated to human activity. The most important among these factors are CO2 emissions. As households have the largest share among CO2 emissions, the EU-funded research project AIM is focusing on ways for increasing energy efficiency in the home.

Governments around the globe have taken actions for reducing CO2 emissions, as they have recognized the fast-changing pace of climate change and its devastating effects for our lives. The need of industrialized countries to minimise CO2 emissions has led to worldwide discussion in the context of the The Kyoto protocol about applicable strategies for control and real-time management of CO2 emissions. As statistics show (see figure 1), CO2 emissions differ by sectoral activities.

Figure 1: Annual CO2 emissions by sector (source: Climate Change 2001: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis)

The residential area accounts for the the largest part of CO2 emissions, considering that about 35 percent of the energy production of power stations is consumed by households. This leads us to the question, how effective existing CO2 control mechanisms are for households.

Massive installation of smart metering devices could solve the problem of energy metering, and thus address the issue of calculating CO2 emissions, but at the expense of extra energy. The alternative: recently emerged technologies enable the automated calibration of energy consumption on the basis of user-configurable thresholds.

The AIM approach

Looking at the energy control problem from a different perspective, the AIM project positions the user in the centre of energy management mechanisms. The main objectives of AIM in this respect are to develop management mechanisms for ultra-low energy consumption and to establish a user-centric approach in energy management that is based on the concept of “user programmes”. With this approach, AIM will create awareness among people on the environmental impact of the use of household appliances. Understanding how much energy an appliance consumes, gives users an active role in the fight against global warming by reducing power usage in the household.

As an alternative to approaches based on an energy metering architecture, AIM has developed a profiling technology that allows determining the energy consumption of household appliances via user programmes. Thus, even inexperienced users will be better able to realise how much energy is spent, when an appliance is switched on or is left in standby mode.

In comparison to existing energy saving solutions, the AIM system does not require extra components and exploits any home network infrastructure for the exchange of status and control messages between the central monitoring mechanism and the appliances (see figure 2).

At the core of the AIM concept is the Energy Monitoring Device (EMD), which is based on the concept of message exchange in the implementation of energy control applications. For households equipped with networked appliances, EMD is a slim software entity hosted on the residential gateway that “talks” to the respective appliance whenever the predefined energy consumption level is exceeded.

Figure 2: AIM concept and outline of network architecture

AIM’s real-time energy monitoring implementation does not require smart metering devices, as the network “understands” the appliance programmes and calculates on the fly the total energy consumption levels, using the corresponding energy profiles.

Extending its concept to the whole value chain of energy generation, supply and use, the AIM solution will also stimulate wider solutions for applying energy control in order to increase user awareness on other critical environmental aspects, such as the preference of renewable energy sources and rationalised energy usage around the clock.

The AIM solution is currently in the implementation phase, promising 20 percent of energy saving for active devices and close to 100 percent energy saving for devices in stand-by mode.

Written by Spyros Tompros

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