An app that visualises indoor thermal comfort, household energy and water consumption has won a Smart Cities Award.

Developed by UNSW built environment researcher Dr Anir Upadhyay with the CRC for Low Carbon Living, VIHEW uses real-time data collected through smart home devices and sensors to show indoor thermal environmental conditions and utility consumption patterns.

“Real-time data is collected using the ‘internet of things’ meters and sensors, state-of-the-art cloud computing technology and delivers user-friendly information through an interactive dashboard,” says Upadhyay.

“VIHEW, which is currently being used in 20 households, displays energy consumption of different services – such as lighting, plug loads, air conditioning, water heating and pool pump – and solar energy generation, [while] encouraging households to optimise energy consumption by using energy-efficient appliances or through behavioural changes.

“The platform can [potentially] be used by thousands of houses to receive the personalised service through a password-protected unique user identity.”

CRC for Low Carbon Living CEO professor Deo Prasad has VIHEW installed in his own energy-efficient home.

“A significant innovation of VIHEW is its personalised approach, presenting indoor thermal comfort conditions via house floor plans, and using simple graphics to illustrate indoor thermal comfort conditions which are cross-referenced with air-conditioning energy consumption to highlight issues associated with the building envelope or a household’s thermal preference,” he says.

“You can also use the tool remotely and adjust the comfort of your home to prepare for your arrival and shut down appliances if you have forgotten to do so when you left the house.”

The tool provides energy performance and total greenhouse gas emissions of buildings post-occupancy and compares it with benchmark data such as BASIX in NSW. The information generated could inform government policy and influence the development of a targeted energy efficiency program.

Utility companies may also benefit from the household scale energy/water demand and water leakages information.

“We are planning to commercialise the tool in the near future, so being nominated for this award is a great step towards this goal,” says Upadhyay.

Pictured (left to right): UNSW researcher Dr Anir Upadhyay and CRC for Low Carbon Living CEO professor Deo Prasad. Image credit: UNSW