Enphase was the first company to successfully commercialize micro-inverters -- little devices that hook up to the back of solar panels allowing conversion of DC current to AC current usable in your home, giving homeowners greater control over their solar panels (you can monitor each panel individually and if one goes out, it doesn't take down the entire system).
Now Enpahse will be giving their power power-users a new reason to rejoice -- a device called Environ
which allows remote controlling and monitoring of both solar panels and heating and cooling systems.
The device transmits real-time data about your home's energy performance to a website where you can access it via a smartphone. If there is a sudden drop in the energy produced by a solar panel (for example if a tree branch knocks a panel out) it will send an alert. It also allows you to preheat or precool your home so you don't need to crank the AC all day in order to be comfortable when you return home from work.
This takes advantage of a major opportunity to reduce our carbon emissions. Most homes are vacant during peak heating and cooling hours while people are at work, yet the typical American homeowner leaves the AC or heat on all day. According to Rocky Mountain Institute eliminating this energy waste is one of the easiest ways
to cut carbon emissions... by as much as 15%.
Americans spend roughly 50% of their energy bill on heating and cooling their homes, at an average annual cost of $950 per year (In 2008, the average home energy bill was $1900
). Shaving 15% would net about 150 bucks and eliminate a full ton of CO2... nothing to sneeze at.
But imagine, hypothetically, if every homeowner in the U.S. started stepping down their heating and cooling load during the day we would end up mitigating about 80 million tons of CO2! Next to getting an efficient on-demand hot water heater like GE's GeoSpring
, this is one of the simplest ways to take a major chunk out of your carbon footprint.