AI and Machine Learning May Reduce My Power Bill Further

I am a big believer in renewable electricity. However the first 18 months of having my own solar panels and home battery has been a mixed bag of benefits. My power bills have dropped considerably from around $1000 a quarter to $80 for the quarter over summer and $220 for the quarter in winter. This occurred even though our consumption has increased substantially!

However during that time I found myself regularly looking at the Tesla app trying to manage my operation of appliances to smooth out power consumption. This takes time and is yet another reason to look at a smart phone touchscreen which most of us try to minimise. So I went looking for a better solution.

My electricity retailer, AGL, got in touch recently about a new power supply option that takes account of my solar panels and home battery installation. The new offer includes a higher rebate of $.20 per kilowatt hour feed in tariff (vs the previous $.20 per kilowatt), however charges a slightly higher daily connection charge. I have the option and chose to go ahead with a move to a time of day supply charge. By using a time of day tariff system I now run a different price for peak, off-peak and shoulder periods of the day. There is also a peak and off-peak period for weekends.

Up until this contract became available to us, as a family we focused on attempting to minimise power consumption outside of sunny periods and when our battery was charged. The goal was to minimise the purchase of electricity from the grid which at that time was $.30 per kilowatt hour. However as much as we tried over an 18 month period, we found we still purchased plenty of electricity during the winter months and although we fed in large amounts of power during the summer months the $.10 per kilowatt hour feed in tariff did little to save us money.

The lowest amount we paid for a summer period power bill was $20. The highest amount we paid for a winter period was $240. During both periods we generated a lot of electricity from our solar panels, however the low feed in tariff price point meant that we simply couldn’t earn enough in rebates to offset the daily connection charge and the requirement to occasionally purchase electricity from the grid.

Once the new time-of-day pricing structure was activated we needed to adjust the customisation setting with our Tesla Power Wall 2 Application. With a couple of settings changes our power wall was now in control of our home power system. Tesla has a feature within the app that allows you to pass control of the homes power source to Tesla using the AI provided by their cloud solution. Your power wall will now decide whether power will come from the grid, the battery, the solar panels or a mixture of the three at any given time of the day. So now you’re home power system is essentially under the control of a computer. The system learns your daily consumption habits and makes decisions automatically about when to feed power to the grid, save power to your battery or a combination thereof. The ultimate goal is to save the household money.

It’s only been a few weeks, however I have seen already that grid power consumption during peak times of the day (when the cost is around $.50 per kilowatt hour) is almost non-existent. Grid power consumption during the shoulder part of the day (when the cost is around $.25 per kilowatt hour) is minimal. However grid power consumption during the off-peak time of the day (when the cost is around $.15 per kilowatt hour) is far higher. I also noticed that the battery is charged by the solar panels or the grid ahead of the peak period so there is plenty in reserve and shoulder times of the day. I also noticed during off-peak that the battery occasionally charges and home consumption is mainly from the grid during this time to.

With more activity from the grid at the lower price of $.15 per kilowatt hour the flow on effect is that my solar panel generated electricity is flowing to the grid more and we are earning the $.20 per kilowatt hour feed in tariff rebate.

I have a hunch that these changes will generate in a higher rebate income, a reduced cost of grid power consumption and an overall lower quarterly electricity bill. The last bill for this quarter of the year (in 2018) was $80 for the quarter. We’ll need to wait a few months to see how these changes affect this overall cost.

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