Figure 1: Average usage times for dishwashers and washing machines in Konstanz
Figure 2: Actual power generation and values predicted by Wisely.
Figure 3: Cross-validation R2 score of Wisely predictions (Wind and Solar).
Figure 4: Regional variations of power plant distributions across Germany.
Figure 5: Load Page
Figure 6: Main Screen: Energy Windows
Figure 7: Community Screen
Figure 8: Personal Profile
Figure 9: Notification System
Figure 10: Setting Reminders
Figure 11: Logging a Chore
Figure 12: Market Research
Renewable energy from solar and wind power plants is subject to large fluctuations depending on the local weather. For instance, solar power production is typically highest throughout the day, when the sun is shining. When there is not much energy need during the day, but high power generation by solar energy, the excess energy can either be stored in batteries or transferred to other places on the grid. Battery storages are often insufficient to store all that excess energy, and transferring energy can lead to significant loss. To make the most out of renewable energy, it is therefore crucial to efficiently use all energy directly when it is produced and where it is produced. To address this challenge, we have developed Wisely, a smart app that helps users to become more environmentally friendly in their energy usage.
While one often hears talk about a smart grid that automatically decides how to make best use of energy, we are still some time away from this goal. Most people are not aware of local fluctuations in renewable energy production and don't have a smart home that may be able to automatically adjust energy usage. Current energy usage is therefore largely unadjusted to fluctuations in renewables.
We have analysed residential household appliance usages provided by the Open Power System Data platform. Our analysis shows that for appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, peak usage times are around 6 PM and 6 AM, respectively (Fig. 1). During these times, solar energy production is typically very low, meaning that other energy sources need to supply the necessary power. Using this dataset, we calculated the average energy used per household for washing dishes and doing the laundry. On average, every household uses around 350 kWh of energy per year for dishwasher and washing machine. For a 2-person household with about 2,100 kWh per year (www.co2online.de), this corresponds to 16% of total household energy usage. According to www.co2online.de it is even as much as 20%. That's a lot of energy! Our data analysis thus demonstrates the need for a solution to help households make smarter decisions for when to run appliances or charge electric vehicles.
Solution: Meet Wisely
Wisely is your one touch solution towards a net zero carbon household. Wisely suggests the optimal time for a user to perform energy-consuming chores from a sustainable outlook. Our data-driven algorithms reveal a real-time, daily ‘green-window’ reflecting high solar and wind energy production in your community; the most energy and cost efficient times to perform tasks.
With a simple user interface, Wisely facilitates your green-lifestyle; enabling users to track, monitor, interact and set reminders. Wisely effortlessly combines energy-consumption with a fun social element to encourage your community to maximise their sustainable footprint through adopting a virtual companion and empowering local green initiatives.
Wisely is aimed at the environmentally conscious consumer who envisions a sustainable lifestyle. However, the app also caters for the every-day user interested in efficiently scheduling their chores with our handy in-built notification system.
Advantages and USPs: (1) Cornflower virtual companion + competitive energy saving social aspect - adds an element of retention and enjoyment to the app (2) Simple user friendly interface, minimal and text-free, (3) Online sustainable advertising community empowering local green efforts.
Wisely's Prediction Algorithms
As solar and wind power depend greatly on the weather, their energy production can be estimated from weather data if one knows the distribution of local energy plants. Instead of manually calculating the possible energy production for a day, Wisely uses machine learning algorithms and historic data to accurately predict the renewable energy production of future days. For our prototype, we have used weather and energy data from the Open Power System Data platform of the year 2016. With this data, Wisely can make very accurate predictions using a linear regression model (Fig. 2, Fig. 3). The accurate energy production predictions enable Wisely to suggest the optimal usage times for the user - to optimize local renewable energy usage.
The fully developed Wisely app will use a more sophisticated machine learning algorithm for accurate energy generation prediction from raw weather forecast data. These predictions will be updated on-line as improved weather forecasts are available. Wisely will also be able to predict energy load for a region to ensure that the best possible usage recommendations are given. Region-specific energy predictions are really important due to the large variations in regional renewable energy plant distributions (Fig. 4).
Interact with your community and measure your impact
We all need a little motivation every now and then. To ensure that you keep up with your personal climate goals, Wisely contains a gamification system, that tells you how much green energy you have saved, how many greenhouse gas emissions you have omitted and lets you compare yourself with your friends and local community. You can also grow a digital cornflower garden when using Wisely.
Future Extensions of Wisely
One of the key goals of Wisely is to enable users that don't have a smart home home system connected to a smart grid to make their own energy usage 'smarter'. 'But I have a smart home!' you say? Even better! We will work to integrate Wisely with the most common smart home systems to transform your smart home into a wise home. As the Internet of Things gets bigger and your machines get smarter, Wisely will get wiser and connect to all those Things.
Of course other products exist that allow you to track your energy consumption - however none of them offers precisely those features that we think are important and make Wisely unique. Other products often require excessive user input or have a very technical user interface. These are all features that don't encourage a user to use an app regularly. Wisely uses a data-drive solution with a simplistic user interface to appeal to the every-day user. We will aim to help promote energy efficient suggestions to the user without them having to review complex graphical representations of their daily energy usage and discover trends themselves.
[See Market Research Table in Image Gallery - Figure 12]
Wisely is an easy-to-use app that allows anybody with a smartphone to become part of the smart grid. It helps to accelerate the crucially needed transformation of the energy grid towards a smart grid by empowering users to make more sustainable decisions and creating awareness about smart energy usage. Through future extensions and integration with the ever-growing Internet-of-Things, Wisely will accompany their users during the energy transformation. Feel free to view our code under Try it out.