A new study at Monash University is giving Australians a glimpse into the not-so-distant digital future of energy efficient smart tech.
In its latest report Digital Energy Futures, researchers from the Emerging Technologies Research Lab compiled and analysed industry expectations for smart technology and energy use to see how these trends could intersect and influence each other in the average household.
The research was narrowed down to six potential scenarios for the near future: “Cool and comfortable in extreme weather”, “stay at home life”, “ageing at home”, “the smart and easy life”, “the smart charging commuter” and “the set and forget prosumer”.
Heating and cooling are going to come into higher use as climate change forces weather into the extremes.
To manage the extra energy use, households are likely going to turn to smart devices such as smart thermostats and hot water systems that use low cost, low carbon electricity instead of gas heating that could save up to six times the energy use.
Household energy use is expected to skyrocket as more people take advantage of emerging technologies such as virtual reality to work from home, provide artificially intelligent home care for the elderly or enjoy immersive home entertainment rather than drive to the local movie theatre.
People will likely no longer see the need to leave the house as frequently with everything conveniently at home, cutting down on a significant portion of commutes.
For those who still need to commute regularly, get ready to see more energy-efficient electric vehicles on the road if car battery charging can be managed more efficiently.
Installing “set and forget” smart technology could also serve to improve comfort and help consumers’ pockets and the planet.
With access to better data, household appliances will be able to manage energy more efficiently, shifting energy loads to decrease peak energy use and saving consumers money with price incentives.
There are a few limitations in the report with its focus so heavily on market and industry trends, failing to reflect socio-economic and cultural diversity or repercussions from large scale interruptions such as bushfires or the ongoing pandemic.
Researchers hope to remedy this with the upcoming second stage of the project with interviews from 72 Australian households to find out how individual Australians see their futures playing out