|DRI researchers work to boost consumer energy use IQ|
The patented software and hardware gives energy customers the power to realize energy savings.
DRI scientists Hampden Kuhns, Ph.D. and Morien Roberts, Ph.D are empowering business owners and eventually residents to manage their energy consumption and adopt efficiency measures that will have measurable savings.
LoadIQ™ (formerly IBUCS) is a Nevada based company formed by Kuhns and Roberts whose goal was to move past the SmartGrid™ and into Smart Energy Consumption.
“We began testing the software, known as the Utility Accountant, in residential settings to see if we could differentiate between appliances such as toasters, washing machines, televisions, and microwaves for example, and then chart which appliances were consuming the most energy,” Roberts said.
The two started the initial testing more than a year and half ago at DRI and the results proved that the experimentation worked.
“In my house for example the hot tub heater and pump were pushing my utility bill up $40 a month,” Kuhns added. “So if customers are making decisions on whether or not to keep the hot tub running or perhaps replace an appliance the data is right there for you.”
Kuhns is referring to the webpage that the utility users can view from their individual desktop. The chart shows what the consumption rate was for each appliance over the course of days, weeks, and months. The algorithm that they developed can isolate 10 or more appliances for the consumer to label and track.
While the production and product roll-out is still in the early stages the researchers have confirmed that the Utility Accountant will report power usage for the top 10 appliances without the need for individual equipment to monitor each load. Their Utility Accountant software will identify peak usage periods and when an appliance is used to provide actionable feedback for the end user to make cost effective efficiency decisions.
Currently researchers are testing the Utility Accountant on a ranch in Northern Nevada, with the goal to monitor well pumps used to irrigate hay fields. The rancher is having difficulty with equipment breaking down. If the experiment works, the Utility Accountant may be able to anticipate when an equipment failure is imminent and recommend servicing. This information could save the rancher thousands of dollars in replacement costs and lost time. This summer, the company will begin other commercial testing in convenience stores to break down energy bills and find ways to reduce energy costs.
The money to fund the research and build this new company came from the California Energy Commission, the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Energy, and the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization. In March, LoadIQ was informed that they had won a highly competitive NSF Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR, Phase II) proposal to fund their company for two years.
In April, the founders of LoadIQ signed a streamlined exclusive licensing agreement with the DRI/University of Nevada Reno Technology Transfer Office called The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Express. Load IQ was the first commercialization project to use this agreement which enables DRI and university faculty to begin start-up companies based on their research and development.
“The NSHE Express certainly accelerated the licensing process allowing us to focus on other issues related to our startup,” Kuhns added.
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