The utility sector only comprises a very limited number of companies which is a good idea of just how very niche it is and how much knowledge and expertise is required to operate successfully in it. The demands made on utility companies have increased dramatically in recent years, both in the literal sense of people needing their services and in the figurative sense of people expecting more from them, especially with regard to helping them to save energy in order to reduce their household expenses and improve their environmental footprint.
Fortunately, technology is coming to the rescue; in particular, the internet of things (IoT) has done a lot to make energy usage much more efficient and thereby to lower the UK’s carbon footprint. Here are three ways it’s making a difference.
Of all the ways the IoT has been changing our lives, possibly the switch to smart meters has been both the most obvious and the most significant. By making it possible for both utility companies and their customers to measure energy usage in real time smart meters promote smart energy usage since customers can see exactly where energy is being wasted while they can still do something about it rather than getting a nasty shock when their bill comes due and wondering where all the money went. Smart meters also make it easier for utility companies to identify problems quickly and move to fix them before the damage becomes significant.
Precise irrigation systems
Although it may not seem like it in a country with as much rain as the UK, water is one of the world’s most precious resources. Even though the majority of the earth’s surface is covered in it, most of the water in the world is salt water which, in its natural state, is of very limited use. It is possible to desalinate it; however, this process requires energy and is therefore not ideal from a sustainability perspective. It is, therefore, far better to use fresh water as frugally as possible and precise irrigation systems are a huge step forward in this regard. Although the technology was developed with agriculture in mind, in future it could become a major benefit to homeowners with gardens who wish to grow their own food and who need to keep their plots irrigated even when sprinkler- and hosepipe-bans are in place.
If we’re honest, traditionally a lot of energy has been lost due to a combination of business, tiredness, and forgetfulness. We’ve all forgotten to switch off heaters and lights from time to time and we’ve all deliberately left some utilities running because we know that it is more convenient than switching them off and on again. Heating is probably the most obvious example of this.
On the one hand, we know that running heating when we are not at home is a waste of energy, on the other hand, nobody wants to come home to an ice-cold house and have to shiver for warmth until it heats up again. Smart buildings help to square this circle by making it easier to control appliances both precisely and remotely.