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CMU's Mario Bergés Unveils New System
For Monitoring Consumer Electricity Use
New Method Can Measure Energy Use of Each Household Appliance
PITTSBURGH—You may soon be able to measure your household electricity use one appliance at a time.
Research by Carnegie Mellon University's Mario Bergés found that households could continuously audit their electricity consumption and reduce energy costs by leveraging a method to monitor appliance-level power consumption from a single whole-house meter.
Because most households have no way of monitoring how much electricity is being consumed by each appliance, Bergés's research team reports that a new commercial monitoring system based on this work may soon be available for residential use.
"There are many opportunities for reducing electricity consumption in buildings, but identifying and quantifying them is often very difficult, particularly in single-family homes," said Bergés, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering
at Carnegie Mellon.
The research team's findings about new ways to monitor home energy use appear in a special edition of Yale's Journal of Industrial Ecology on environmental applications of information and communication technology.
Carnegie Mellon researchers studied non-intrusive load monitoring (NILM), a new technique for monitoring the power consumption and operational schedule of individual loads in a building by measuring overall voltage and the current feeding it.
"NILM uses a single whole-house meter, connected to software in an embedded device or computer to provide appliance-level energy metering," Bergés said. "The system monitors the signals on electrical wires, and then uses signal processing and machine-learning algorithms to identify which device caused the change in electricity use by matching it against a library of known signatures from different devices."
However, NILM systems often require a training period for getting all home appliances registered with the monitoring system, so CMU researchers recommended incorporating the training stage into a visit by an expert energy auditor.
At present, residential buildings account for as much as 37 percent of the total electricity use in the United States, so CMU researchers argue that a system like NILM, which provides continuous monitoring, could make household energy use greener and more cost-effective.
Co-investigators for this research include H. Scott Matthews, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy
, Ethan Goldman, a CMU alum now working with Efficiency Vermont, and Lucio Soibelman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering.
Pictured above is Mario Bergés, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at CMU.