Using IoT and Real-Time Feedback for Energy Conservation and Demand Response

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London Hydro is a Local Distribution Company that services the city of London, Ontario, Canada. With a peak load of 719 megawatts, they deliver electricity to over 159,040 customers.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) funded a pilot program with London Hydro as part of its ongoing RPP (Regulated Price Plan) roadmap to evaluate the impacts of Time-of-Use (TOU) rates, real-time electricity usage information, and automated demand response using Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

The Approach

London Hydro enrolled 1,793 of its customers in the pilot.  All of the participants were provided with Rainforest’s EAGLE-200 Energy Gateway, which provided real-time data from the home meter.  The meter data was streamed live through the participants’ internet to London Hydro’s back office server.  It was then presented to users in real time through Trickl, a mobile app developed by London Hydro.

In addition, selected homes had load control switches installed at the electrical panel to control larger loads, and smart plugs were provided for smaller loads.  These control devices communicated with the EAGLE-200 gateway using Zigbee wireless protocols, allowing the EAGLE-200 to monitor and control the devices and the loads attached to them.  The Trickl app made use of the EAGLE-200 REST Application Programming Interface (API) to send control signals through the Rainforest Cloud to the gateway.  This allowed users to activate the switches from their phones.

Rainforest also provided London Hydro with the ability to define and dispatch Automated Demand Response (ADR) events through a simple web interface using Rainforest’s OpenADR Virtual Top Node (VTN) server.  The EAGLE-200 at each participant’s home communicated with the server and acted as an OpenADR Virtual End Node (VEN).  Once an event had been scheduled, the VENs would download the details and wait until the appointed time – at which point the gateways would take control of the installed switches to turn off the loads for the period of time defined.

After enrollment and installation of equipment, the pilot went live on 01 May 2018 and ran for one year.  In all, 36 peak events were declared by the OEB, each lasting one hour, sometime between 5pm and 8pm.

In addition to the above-mentioned technology, London Hydro also provided economic incentive in the form of Critical Peak Pricing (CPP), which priced usage during called peak events at $0.595 per kWh — nearly 10x the discounted Off-Peak rate of $0.060 per kWh.  This rate only applied to those participants who were provided with the ADR technology.  It did not apply to those customers who only used the EAGLE-200 for real-time feedback.

Not surprisingly, participants equipped with IoT technology that automatically curtailed loads during peak events saw dramatic drops of up to 47% in electrical demand during peak events.  The effect was most pronounced on hot summer days.  This indicates that cooling was the most significant load.  In fact, there was very little effect during winter events, since most participants used natural gas for heating.

Figure 3 below shows an average event day load profile for the five summer events running from 6pm to 7pm.  Because these events start just as the temperature begins to drop, there is no “snapback” effect when the events end.

In addition to the significant demand response effect, there is also an energy conservation effect for these participants.  The dashed blue line in Figure 3 shows the average load profile on days with no event.  Note that it is well below the line for the Control group (non-participants).  On average, participants with Rainforest ADR and real-time feedback technology installed reduced their daily summer On-Peak consumption by approximately 5%, in addition to their performance on event days.

Even those participants who received only real-time feedback from the EAGLE-200 without IoT controls, and were not subject to – or motivated by – CPP, showed a modest on-peak average energy savings of about 2%.

There also appeared to be a behavioural component to the demand response results.  A segment of the participants with installed ADR technology did not receive the OpenADR signals from the utility to trigger automatic curtailment of their loads.  However, these participants were still subject to the CPP during the event and were motivated to take action themselves.  Figure 4 below shows the average event day load profile for this segment of the participants for the 13 summer events running from 5pm to 6pm.  Note the distinctive drop in demand during the called event – although not as pronounced as those with the ADR assist.  Over the course of the summer, this non-connected segment still produced an average demand savings of 15% during events.


In addition to the deployment of technology and a CPP rate, London Hydro also undertook an ambitious customer engagement campaign.  This included holding 28 open house events, two breakfast events, focus groups, and in-home technical assistance.  This strategy bore fruit, as it was found that participants that attended open house events delivered significantly more energy savings than the average participant.  In fact, the on-peak summer performance was twice the average, while the mid-peak performance was about 3x the average.


The primary purpose of the engagement campaign was to raise awareness and the level of knowledge around energy management among the participants.  When asked, a majority of the pilot participants who received the Rainforest technology and used the Trickl app felt that their knowledge of how to manage household electricity consumption increased as a result of participating, and 79% of this group indicated an interest in participating in similar future programs.

This pilot demonstrated that Rainforest IoT technology can produce significant residential automated demand response results – up to 1kW reduction per household in this case.  In addition, the real-time feedback provided by the same system triggers modest energy conservation, which is increased when the load control tools are made available to the user.

The full report for this pilot can be found online at