Here in the United States we’re focusing on upgrading our power grid to be a smart power grid. This involves a two way communication between our home and the power grid via our electric meter. The ultimate goal would be for our home to use less energy during peak times on the power grid, where electricity could cost more. During low usage on the power grid our home could make use of more energy at a lower cost.
Japan however, is focusing more on “energy-independent home”. In his article “Japan zooms in on the smart home”, Junko Yoshida from the EE Times Asia, talks about the Fukuoka Smart House Consortium. They’re testing out home networks which monitor every aspect of power usage in the home with power usage monitors embedded in the electrical devices. The monitors then wirelessly send result to a central gateway to a tablet computer which manages the whole home.
Monitoring electricity in only half the solution as the technology also makes use of any opportunity to generate electricity including solar panels, wind and local rivers.
The key to all of this is monitoring the usage and sharing between different families in the community as electricity usage differs between families.