Local News

Software is designed to save money, environment

Posted September 21, 2009 6:32 p.m. EDT
Updated September 21, 2009 6:41 p.m. EDT

— A pilot program from Raleigh-based company Consert is designed to help consumers save money and the environment.

The company launched the program Monday with 100 customers of the Fayetteville Public Works Commission. It installed controllers on appliances, such as water heaters and air conditioning units.

By logging onto the Internet, homeowners can monitor and adjust the settings on these appliances when they're not home to cut down on what Consert Chief Executive Officer Jack Roberts calls “ghost consumption,” or using kilowatts when no one is benefiting from it.

First, customers give the company information about when they go to work and the temperatures they prefer the house be kept at while they aren’t home.

The system is based in IBM software.

“All of this information is collected in real time,” said Vik Chandra, of IBM.

In Fayetteville’s pilot program, residential customers saw an average savings of 15 percent on their monthly bills. Commercial users saw about 8 percent in savings.

“We have some people that got 5 (percent) and some people that got 50 percent savings,” Roberts said.

Roberts says most of those savings come from the adjustments made to air conditioners and water heaters.

“Generally speaking, people do not use hot water heaters very many hours of the day. But their hot water heater is keeping their water constantly hot,” Roberts said.

The system costs $300 $350 to install.

The pilot program was used by customers of Wake Electric Coop in Wake County and Project Freedom at North Carolina State University.

Consert officials said they hope to have the system available to all consumers in 2010.