An app that uses a cloud-based platform to perform household and small business energy audits and generate savings plans is about to be released, according to Australian tech start-up Ecologic.
Ecologic co-founder, John McKibbin, who was previously an energy policy advisor to governments and utilities, said the impetus for developing the product arose from his frustration at conflicts in the energy policy space and the inability of policy to deliver consistent support for energy efficiency.
The goal of the app, which is currently in the beta testing stage, is to “skip past” the policy battleground and work directly with business and households to reduce energy use.
The company currently comprises four people: Mr McKibbin, two in-house IT engineers and a designer. As a team, they spent two years working on the product as a sideline before the company formally launched last month.
App users submit information on their energy retailer, climate zone, building, appliances and energy use habits, and the Ecologic platform uses the EnergyPlus simulation system developed by the US Department of Energy to analyse the efficiency and savings potentials. These are delivered as a detailed audit that gives dollar values for each appliance’s power use, potential areas of savings and payback periods for each option.
Mr McKibbin said the company was currently developing an e-marketplace that users can access to put the savings plan into action, and this will include solar PV, insulation, appliances, electricity retailers, building materials and energy efficiency technology.
A professional subscription product is also being developed that can be used for sophisticated audits such as those undertaken as part of greening facilities management for large commercial buildings.
Mr McKibbin said the reason the technology was based on the US engine is because the Australian engines, such as Accurate and FirstRate, were geared towards new buildings and focused on thermal modelling of the building envelope. The US building energy simulation engine, however, is geared entirely towards energy use and applies to existing buildings and the appliances and technology within them.
“Buildings are around for a long time, and the real opportunity for overall energy efficiency is in existing buildings,” Mr McKibbin said.
“One of the breakthroughs in the energy space has been people talking about ‘energy productivity’. The real opportunity [for sustainability] is the fundamentals of how much energy you use.”
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