Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Energate smart thermostat lets users pick environmentally-friendly power plants

Steve Rogerson
May 3, 2016
 
Ottawa-based energy management company Energate is piloting secure smart grid technology that will make its thermostats capable of prioritising use of electricity from environmentally-friendly power plants.
 
Beginning this month, select Chicago residents will receive Energate’s HōlHōm smart thermostat with the ability to use clean energy selectively. Clean power mode deliberately synchronises air conditioning and heating cycles to correspond to availability of clean power, reducing, and someday eliminating, any unused green resources.
 
WattTime-HōlHōm is available to Chicago residents who apply to participate. The upgrade to a HōlHōm smart thermostat is free, effortless and said to have no catch – it has little impact on comfort, will not increase energy bills or wear out equipment. No one will be forced to upgrade their thermostat as the focus of the project is to give consumers control over how the energy they consume is made.
 
“This is something fundamentally new,” said WattTime executive director Gavin McCormick. “For more than 100 years, electricity has been primarily fossil fuelled. Power plants, unlike almost any other industry, could actually force you to use their product whether you liked it or not. But with this new technology, the game has changed. If you’d rather your energy use didn’t support, say, a coal plant, you can just say no. Every time Energate’s thermostat takes action it effectively casts an economic vote for clean power.”
 
McCormick said this timing-based approach ensured users were directly reducing pollution from dirty plants, not just freeing up the dirty power to be used to power someone else’s home.
 
“Energate built its consumer connected demand response platform to support a wide variety of needs,” said Steve Dodds, CEO of Energate. “Responding directly to environmental signals demonstrates the amazing flexibility of the platform and of our HōlHōm thermostat at focusing energy where it counts. I can’t think of a better use for this capability than protecting the environment for future generations.”
 
The technology provides consumers with the choice to use renewable energy sources, is compatible with other smart devices, and is already in use in select electric vehicles. Energate expects the technology will soon become widespread across IoT applications.
 
WattTime’s technology is made possible through research and development, mentorship and funding from tech non-profit accelerator Fast Forward, and funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund and Google. Energate and WattTime’s work is supported by a broad research coalition of scientists from the University of California Berkeley, Wayne State University, Delta Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute and the National Wildlife Federation.
 
WattTime is an environmental non-profit built on research at University of California Berkeley.