Smart meter firm sets sights on new energy-saving software


In the UK, smart meter specialist Onzo has announced that it will join with IT consultancy LShift to develop new software for its home energy monitoring products, designed to provide consumers with more detailed information on the energy they use.

The company, which specialises in real-time energy-use display meters, said the new system will allow it to offer customers energy bills with a level of detail similar to that featured in credit card bills. It is hoped that providing customers with more detailed information about the appliances and times of day that use the most energy will encourage them to think more about curbing energy use.

Under the partnership, LShift will develop a data warehouse with Onzo that will enable raw data on customers' energy use to be analysed and made available to customers through a website and new energy use reports accompanying bills.

Onzo chief executive Joel Hagan said that the company's existing software that allows consumers to see which appliances are most power-hungry would also be integrated into the data warehouse. "This project is an opportunity to use data in an interesting way and will help energy companies to meet customers' needs" - he said.

If a customer's bill is high one month, instead of sending engineers to check the meter, the Onzo database will allow energy firms to know if the household has just added a new energy-intensive appliance. It would also allow utilities to notify customers if thier energy use is higher than usual - potentially heading off a particularly hefty bill.

Conversely, the system would also be able to notify the energy company if the meter reading looked wrong, saving the customer and energy company time and money, explained Hagan. "As most readings and estimates are done quarterly, Onzo will also improve the estimation of billing for customers" - he added.

The new partnership follows hot on the heels of a £2m investment round from energy giant Scottish and Southern and group venture capital firm Sigma Capital Group. As part of that deal SSE also placed initial orders worth £7m with the company as it seeks to roll-out its smart meter technology to its customers.

Hagan said that he expects the new software product to come to market at the end of this year and will be available to Scottish and Southern customers.

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