Creating a smart grid in the United States means automating and computerizing many of the monitoring and maintenance practices that are still conducted by electricity company employees. The electricity grid consists of wires, transformers, and other equipment that allows for the transfer of power from utility companies to their customers. Granting two-way digital-communication capabilities and access by sensors, such as power meters and fault detectors, to grid devices allows utility companies to monitor and control energy distribution much more efficiently, working from a central location and without needing to send workers to gather data. Transitioning to a smart grid will not only make the current electricity infrastructure more efficient, it will also allow for better integration of emerging alternative electricity sources like solar and wind power.
About the author:
Since 2001, Daniel Sheflin has been a vice president of technology automation control solutions at Honeywell in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Throughout his career, Daniel Sheflin has been involved in the development of important technologies, such as wireless sensors, and he has served as the chairman of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s smart grid advisory committee.
Smart grid technologies consist of a group of modernized electric utility systems that integrate computerized, automated, and remotely controlled capabilities. Using tried and true computer technologies that have seen widespread adoption in other industries, smart grid technologies have the potential to increase energy efficiency throughout the electrical grid, from power plants to end users.
Examples of smart grid technologies include hardware set up to communicate digitally with a central control facility. Sensors combined with automation enable utilities to monitor and adjust devices remotely. This makes it possible for the utility to examine usage, detect broken equipment, control voltages, and carry out many other functions in a more efficient manner. These technologies also promise to harden the grid against cyber-attacks and respond more effectively to the volatile output of energy sources such as wind and solar power to take advantage of their capabilities and mitigate their disadvantages.
About the Author
Daniel Sheflin has served as vice president of technology automation control solutions at Minnesota technology giant Honeywell for over 12 years. A former manager at General Electric, Daniel Sheflin takes a keen interest in smart grid technologies and served as chairman of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Smart Grid Federal Advisory Committee.
With a master of science in engineering, Daniel Sheflin has taken part in various important projects concerning wireless sensors, smart grid, and energy efficiency. Daniel Sheflin has operated as the general manager of engineering for General Electric and as the Vice President of Technology for the Automation Control Solutions Division of Honeywell.
While many individuals are aware of some basic ways to save energy at home, such as turning off lights and using efficient appliances, many are unaware of the many ways homes can be even more efficient and less costly in the long run. Described below are a few simple ways to improve energy efficiency where it counts.
1. Make sure there are no major air leaks in the home. These can be found in places like bathroom vents, water heater flues, and other places where openings are present.
2. Secure the perimeter of your home with calk or spray foam. Many homes built before 1980 likely will have places where cracks and holes have formed.
3. Make sure the fireplace flue does not have any holes or gaps.
4. Canister ceiling lights can often be inefficient. Replacement of bulbs or re-plastering can usually remedy the problem.