A few weeks ago, we reported on some exciting expansions in the home energy management market. At the forefront is Ford’s ambitious collaboration with a number of other companies to create a whole home system that makes smarter use of electricity to reduce consumption and save homeowners money. There are fundamental changes happening in the way consumers will buy and use electricity in the very near future. According to Ford, the MyEnergi Lifestyle project embraces those trends and attempts to revolutionize the way a typical American consumer purchases energy.
EarthTechling recently had the opportunity to interview Mike Tinskey, currently Director of Ford’s Sustainability activities focused on electric vehicles and infrastructure. We wanted to know what makes the MyEnergi Lifestyle project such a potentially powerful tool, and why now is the right time for consumers to consider a home energy management system. Here are his responses.
ET: A big part of what sets MyEnergi apart from other home energy management systems is “Time of Use integration” or how it makes use of energy at different times of the day. What’s the difference between peak and off-peak energy hours, for those who might not know?
Tinskey: In more and more markets, utility providers are evaluating when demand is highest for energy. In very general terms, the demand is lowest from around midnight to 6 a.m. (off-peak or non-peak hours), and gradually increases throughout the day. It is generally highest during the early evening as people return home from work, do laundry, prepare dinner, and then gradually decreases as people prepare for bed.
In order to incentivize customers to use electricity during times when there is more energy available, utilities are charging less for energy at off-peak hours, because they can more easily produce it. Our program helps to take advantage of these “time-of-use” rates to save customers money, but also to use cleaner energy. Most utilities generate a small amount of their total energy from renewable sources (wind, solar, etc.), so when you are using energy at off-peak hours, you are using “cleaner,” more renewable energy.
ET: You’re collaborating with some known leaders in clean energy and smart technology on this project. What made Ford want to start sharing its data with other companies?
Tinskey: We’ve worked with lots of new companies around electric vehicles and energy infrastructure. We noticed some trends that have helped customers get better rates and we asked ourselves why wouldn’t these concepts be good for home devices? We talked to other partners that embrace the technology like Whirlpool (the leading in appliance and whitegood space), Eaton (developers of smart charge station and power storage) and SunPower (they offer high-efficiency solar for us, more info here — Drive Green for Life).
We share our database openly, so as more products come along that will benefit from leveraging this database, we’ll look to add them to the program.