Let’s face it: even though we grumble about the less-than-100% accuracy of meteorologists, weather forecasts are an important part of our lives. But the forecast does more than just tell us whether or not we need to grab an umbrella in the morning— it can also increase the energy efficiency of our electricity industry as a whole. In fact, data from weather forecasts can be used at residential and commercial levels to increase energy efficiency.
The information from weather forecasts is used in the home by smart energy technology, like a programmable thermostat or other appliance that uses the data to help you use less energy.
One study from the Automatic Control Laboratory in Switzerland describes a way to take commercial applications of climate data and apply them to an individual household using Integrated Room Automation. The report notes that, using data that will predict future weather patterns, a household can automate their HVAC system, lights, and blinds to minimize energy costs.
Luckily, you don’t have to purchase a fancy array of weather forecasting technology to implement these energy-saving principles in your home! Start by investing in smart energy technology like a programmable thermostat and keeping a close eye on weather forecasts so you can adjust the controllable aspects of your home’s energy consumption to best coincide with current weather patterns.
The main commercial application for predictive weather forecasting is increasing the energy efficiency of retail energy suppliers. Large amounts of accurate data can make an energy supplier’s job easier because this provides valuable input on how much energy they should create.
Let’s pause to consider some important context on how energy is created and stored. It’s easy to not think too hard about how energy companies have enough electricity to always serve the needs of everyone in their service areas. Do they just have an infinite supply of energy? Do they instantly create the energy you need when you flip your light switch? Of course not! The real answer here is buffer electricity.
Buffer electricity is an excess amount of electricity that energy suppliers create as a backup in case they underestimate the energy needs of their customers in a set period of time. Think of it as a savings account for electricity, except that not all of this energy gets used.
What does this have to do with residential customers? More accurate data for energy suppliers from weather forecasts (not only what the weather is currently like in many different areas but also what they weather will be like in the future) allows suppliers to more accurately determine how much energy their customers will use. As a result, they won’t need to create as much buffer electricity, which means less overall electricity is created. This will increase the efficiency of these power plants and allow those savings to be passed onto customers in the form of lower prices!
If you’re curious to learn more about the benefits of weather forecasting for energy suppliers, check out this podcast from Energy Efficiency Markets.com!