From December, Tempus Energy will be launching what it calls “demand response” black box technology across UK households, which it claims will be able to save UK householders 20% on their electricity bills.
The firm, with a self-proclaimed mission to bring transparency to the electricity markets, claims that their black box technology remotely manages home appliances, turning them on and off according to fluctuations in the wholesale price of electricity, which occur throughout the day.
The devices will be installed in the customer’s home and “communicate” with smart appliances – such as dishwashers and washing machines – using complex technology to receive information from energy companies’ changing prices, and monitor appliance use on a half-hourly basis.
So, at times of peak energy use when wholesale electricity costs more, the black box will be instructed to turn off householders’ devices. When these peak times are finished, then appliances will automatically be turned back on, ensuring that consumers don’t pay over the odds for a constant electricity supply.
According to Tempus Energy, installing their black box device and using it to monitor electricity consumption in this way could shave £250 off the average £1,265 energy bill.
While smart appliances can already be hooked up to a mobile phone and switched on and off remotely from a smartphone, the black box technology does this automatically and only turns on the electricity when prices are cheapest.
For the energy bill-payer, their only task will be to make sure they are prepared to make the most of the off-peak electricity prices by having washing machines and dishwashers loaded and ready to go before bedtime, as this is when the lowest electricity prices are most likely to be available.
One concern with this automatic on- and off-switching may be that the television could turn itself off during a peak time viewing event on a Saturday night, or the kettle could stop boiling in the middle of making a round of hot drinks. Tempus Energy says that this would not happen for such appliances, as these are labelled “time sensitive.”
It’s difficult to predict how useful and practical this black box technology will be for UK energy consumers, but the report from Tempus Energy at the beginning of next year after the initial trial run should shed light on whether or not this is a viable energy-saving solution. In the meantime, our running costs calculator can help you find out how much it is currently costing you to run your electric appliances.
Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.