Lixar SRS: the future of residential energy management

Hamilton%2C%20Tyler45X64.jpgPosted by Tyler Hamilton
My column today was a snapshot of some energy management projects going on in Ontario, a sign that local utilities are getting energized about the possibilities of energy conservation, given the right technologies in the hands of homeowners and businesses.
I mentioned Milton Hydro’s 200-plus household project in Ontario, but I’d like to provide some context because the results only tell half the story. Here’s what I wrote in the column:
"The pilot project, conducted between July 2007 and Sept. 2008, was a collaboration between Milton Hydro, Direct Energy and Bell Canada. Households were given the ability to monitor their energy use through the Internet, as well as through BlackBerry-like devices, and to remotely control the lighting and operation of appliances in their homes.
"An easy-to-use Web interface, designed by Toronto-based Lixar SRS, gave them a detailed view of how much electricity individual appliances were using at any point in time. The results showed that one in 10 participating households, when handed this control, used 16 per cent less electricity over 12 months and 18 per cent less during peak periods."
I say only half the story because the Milton project was a bit of a mish-mash of different technologies, some of which worked and some that didn’t work so well. The fact that only 10 per cent achieved savings above 15 per cent per cent is a bit misleading because, as I understand it, different homes were tested with different technologies and protocols. The only common thread was the Lixar SRS energy management software, which Direct Energy hailed as the best part of the project. I’d like to emphasize this because Toronto-based Lixar is another Ontario cleantech company making waves beyond provincial borders. “The most impressive was the Lixar interface,” said David Dollihite, vice-president of product development at Direct Energy.
“Lixar has got a leading edge customer user interface for the presentment of energy usage information, and the ability to turn that information into something that’s actionable.”
An example? Some participants in the project were given the capability of participating in provincial demand-response programs. During DR periods, participants saw savings of 44 per cent. Pretty damn good.
I’ve taken the Lixar software for a spin, and have to say it lives up to expectations and is super user-friendly. Not only can you monitor overall home electricity use, but you can see what individual devices are using, you can look at historical usage trends, and you can control all of this remotely through an Internet connection or a mobile device. As entire neighbourhoods or cities adopt this technology, one could eventually get the ability to compare your usage to your neighbours or your city average, as well as compare your city to other cities. Click here to read more of Tyler's post.

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