6 Jun 2014

Smart appliances still evolving

7:33 am on 6 June 2014

Few homes have appliances fitted with technology which works with smart meters to keep energy costs and consumption down, Trustpower says.

The company is negotiating a contract with Mighty River Power-owned Metrix, which will provide smart meters to 225,000 homeowners from next year. It is the final power company to install the meters.

In a report five years ago on smart meters, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright highlighted the importance of Home Area Network capabilities.

That means the meter and household appliances can interact with each other, so appliances can be powered at cheaper times, such as fridges which turn off auto-defrost cycles at peak times.

But Trustpower general manager of technology Simon Clarke said few homes had matching appliances even now.

"The main concerns that Dr Wright raised were in relation to the meters not having a ZigBee communications chip in it, which is a home area network communications protocol.

"I think the rationale behind that is she was concerned that meters would not be able to talk to appliances or anything like that. The market on that hasn't evolved substantially," Mr Clarke said.

"All the technology that has been rolled out is capable of doing that but really that requires the appliances manufacturers to also have capable, smart appliances in the home.

"We haven't seen a lot of that arriving in New Zealand yet but that will arrive over the next five to 10 years, I suspect."

The replacement cycle of appliances was quite long, and the manufacturers of those appliances needed to be motivated to include the technology in their appliances, Mr Clarke said.