Unlocking the power of HEMS

EV Charging | 4 June 2024

When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), the talk of the town often revolves around squeezing the most miles out of a single charge. That’s not surprising. More range means less frequent top-ups and the comfort of relying mostly on home charging. 

But here’s the kick: how do you make home charging not just convenient but also cost-effective? Enter the Home Energy Management System (HEMS), a game-changer in the world of efficient EV charging. 

This guide is your ticket to minimising charging costs at home using HEMS. We’ll cover: 

  • What is HEMS and how it can improve your EV charging experience
  • How to recognise a good HEMS
  • 5 tips for using HEMS to charge your EV for less

HEMS — what is it & why you should care

Let’s cut to the chase: what exactly is a Home Energy Management System (HEMS)? 

Think of HEMS as the brains of your home’s energy use. It’s a sophisticated blend of hardware and software designed to oversee, control, and streamline how your home uses energy. This isn’t just about turning off a light remotely; it’s about creating an energy-efficient ecosystem in your home.

The hardware part of HEMS includes meters and sensors connected to your home appliances. Yes, that includes your trusty EV charger, and if you’re harnessing the power of the sun, your solar panels and batteries, too. These gadgets are the eyes and ears of the system, constantly gathering data on how much energy you’re using and when.

But the real magic happens in the software. It’s like having a personal energy assistant that talks to the hardware, collects all the juicy data, and makes sense of it. The software lets you set your energy preferences and schedules, ensuring your appliances use electricity in the smartest way possible.

Now, why should you as an EV owner, perk up at the mention of HEMS? Well, it’s quite simple — HEMS can tailor your EV charging schedule to align with the best times for energy use, for example, when your solar panels are basking in sunlight or during off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper.

HEMS isn’t a fancy gadget. It’s an investment in smarter, more sustainable living.

Recognising a good HEMS 

There are a few elements that will tell you immediately you’re looking at a top-of-the-class energy management system:

  • Device compatibility: The capability to integrate with all the appliances in your home, not just a select few, to monitor, control, as well as optimise all the devices in harmony. 
  • Real-time monitoring: Your HEMS should offer a detailed, real-time overview of how much energy you’re consuming, when, and how — any time you need it.
  • User-friendly interface: Web and mobile platforms that are easy to navigate and understand. There’s no point gathering data if you can’t find, manage, or understand it without taking a course. 
  • Good level of control: Advanced settings controls, such as the ability to manually turn appliances on and off, adjust timers, change your EV’s charging schedule, and so on — from any device. 
  • Integration with renewable energy sources: Compatibility with renewable energy sources. Even if you don’t have solar panels today, you may choose to install them tomorrow. Your existing HEMS (and EV charging setup) shouldn’t stand in the way — or cause you to double the investment because all of it needs to be changed and reinstalled. 
  • AI-powered analytics: There are HEMS that can connect to your EV’s charger and understand your specific circumstances, needs, and goals (financial as well as environmental). Without AI, you’re just looking at a bunch of nice charts and data points without exploring all the opportunities they present.

3 steps to using HEMS to charge your EV for less

Step #1: Set your EV charging preferences

Key factors to consider:

  • EV battery range and capacity: Every EV is unique, with different battery ranges and capacities. What is the maximum charging speed your EV (and home charging setup) is compatible with? What’s your battery range (how far it can take you on a single charge) and how long does it take to top up?
  • Your daily routine: Do you drive long distances regularly or does your day-to-day mostly consist of short trips to work and local grocery stores? 
  • Recommended battery charge level: It’s worth checking manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the percentage to which your EV’s batteries should be charged. In some cases, it’s advisable to charge up to 80%. In others, keeping the battery charged between 25% and 75% may extend its lifetime. 
  • Peak and off-peak hours: Dive into your energy provider’s tariff plans to check what the peak hours are (times when demand is high, and so are the prices) and when the off-peak hours kick in (times when demand drops and prices dip). Scheduling your EV to charge at night, for example, is one of the easiest ways to optimise charging costs.

Good to know:

Some smart chargers will also allow you to not only automate charging times and optimise on costs, but also set and prioritise sustainability and the environmental benefits. For example, by choosing to use more green energy.

Setting up your EV charging preferences isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it deal. But you can make sure you’re off to a great start by:

  • Prioritising off-peak hours
  • Enabling your EV to charge automatically
  • Ensuring charging times fit your routine and daily needs

Step #2: Integrate renewable energy sources

Integrating renewable energy sources, particularly solar panels, into your home energy setup reduces dependence on the grid, especially during those wallet-straining peak hours. And can lower your energy bills significantly.

Typically, the solar energy your panels generate either powers whatever’s on in the house or is fed back to the grid. You get paid for it, but more often than not, it’s not a lot. In fact, it would have been cheaper to use that excess power yourself.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Pair solar panels with HEMS and it will ensure the energy you generate is used effectively within your home, prioritising EV charging when needed. 

Imagine this:

You get back home from work, plug in your EV, and tell your HEMS that you need a full charge by 7am. The system springs into action, balancing your home’s energy demands with the solar power available.

When the household energy needs peak, it temporarily pauses EV charging to avoid dipping into costly mains electricity. Later, as the demand drops, it resumes charging your car.

As night falls and off-peak electricity rates kick in, your HEMS takes advantage of these cheaper rates to continue charging your EV. Your HEMS won’t send the solar power generated if that’s not the most cost-effective option.

This smart juggling act ensures that your car is charged efficiently, using the most cost-effective energy sources available.

Step #3: Leverage the power of AI

AI thrives on data, and that’s why a smart, AI-powered HEMS can become truly irreplaceable when it comes to reducing the cost of EV charging at home. 

We’re not talking about excruciating prompting or a generic Q&A experience. There are HEMS that come with sophisticated AI that will:

  • Predict optimal EV charging times, based on your habits. AI will learn your routine. It will dive deeper than the initial preferences and requirements you entered into the system. It will observe when you tend to charge your EV, when different energy-hungry appliances are typically running, and what the average daily electricity usage is at your house. 

Based on these learnings, AI can make well-informed adjustments to your EV’s charging times (if you’ve integrated your smart charger with HEMS), making sure it doesn’t put an unnecessary dent in your budget.

  • Predict and react to electricity tariff changes: Keeping up with fluctuating energy prices can be a headache. But that’s one less thing to worry about when you’ve got an AI-powered HEMS on your side. AI will continuously analyse your electricity usage, market demand, and different tariffs available. A more advanced solution like Powerverse will even take into account weather conditions to not only react to changing conditions in real time, but also make smart predictions and plan accordingly. 

That way, it can not only switch to cheaper and greener energy sources, but also decide when it’s more cost-effective to use any excess solar power generated. 

  • Offer personalised recommendations: Whether you’re trying to find better electricity tariffs for winter, wondering if you’ve optimised your EV charging times, or trying to cut emissions, a more advanced AI solution can analyse market data and your unique habits and electricity usage patterns to suggest the best solutions. At Powerverse, we deliver that via Powerverse Raya, our AI Energy Assistant, who can answer any queries you have and automate energy efficiency. So you have more time to focus on what matters most. 

And there you have it. Three simple steps. One massive improvement for your budget. 

A smart HEMS does more than save a few quid on your electricity bills (although that’s a significant perk). It’s a solution that customises your energy usage to fit your lifestyle like a glove, including how and when you charge your EV. 

You could even say, it’s a new quality of life.

About Powerverse

At Powerverse, we’re experts in solar panel systems, EV chargepoints, and smart energy management systems that help you run your home and EV on clean and cost-efficient electricity.

Want to find out more? Get in touch to speak to one of our experts!

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