The average home or office is but one tiny unit in our greater energy grid, but given that America's buildings rake up 75 percent of the national electric bill, energy efficiency needs to begin there. UMass Amherst computer scientist Prashant Shenoy and electrical and computer engineer David Irwin are leading a team of researchers focused on analyzing smart meters and other tools that could transform the way energy is utilized, monitored, and controlled in U.S. buildings.
The National Science Foundation funded Shenoy's foundational smart-grid research, and now he and his team are moving into the deployment phase with several new technologies intended to help residents and utility companies achieve their energy goals. Along with partner Holyoke Gas and Electric (HG&E), Shenoy and his team are analyzing 18,000 smart meters deployed in western Massachusetts and are continuing to expand their efforts. Whereas previous meters recorded data once a month, these record electricity data constantly and feed it wirelessly to the electric utility. Because this information yields patterns—peak usage times, appliance usage, and more—it is invaluable in making buildings more efficient.
In the next phase of the project that is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), Shenoy and the team will use a computational cluster at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center to interpret and analyze data collected by the smart meters in Holyoke.