Hygge Power is Returning to Free Electrons!

We are pleased to announce that Hygge Power has been invited to Free Electrons, arguably one of the most prestigious and selective energy startup programs in the world. Each year, Free Electrons offers startups the chance to collaborate with 10 global energy giants. Free Electrons seeks the most promising later-stage energy startups and is committed to supporting energy entrepreneurs and startups in transforming the energy market by co-creating the next generation of ideas in energy, energy efficiency, e-mobility, digitization, data-driven business models and on-demand customer services.

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About the Free Electrons Program

The 2019 Cohort begins this week as a one-week bootcamp in Dublin, Ireland, followed by successive modules in Ohio, Hong Kong and Lisbon, Portugal. During the bootcamp, the top 30 companies are invited to showcase their respective solutions and teams. After, selected startups participate in three modules of roughly a week each, competing for the coveted “Free Electrons World’s Best Energy Startup” recognition, with a prize of $200,000.

Value of Free Electrons Program

For Hygge Power, the program offers an unprecedented opportunity for us to share our OPO smart plug and home energy storage device with clean-tech investors and leaders across a global network of potential customers. On top of that, Free Electrons helps us quickly “level up” with curated support and access to a network of utility giants, which is crucial. Utilities, in general, have barriers and a lot of red tape to deal with, and we have seen firsthand how the Free Electrons program can help remove those obstacles.

With Free Electrons, energy startups are afforded the luxury of legitimate face-to-face time with 10 utilities during workshop sessions in order to determine whether a pilot aligns to their objectives, what the success criteria are, and what additional resources are needed from the utility. From there, the program kicks off pilot programs for immediate testing, allowing for true innovation.

Beyond in-depth meetings with leaders of global energy giants and opportunities for strategic investments from utilities, startups chosen for Free Electrons receive unparalleled exposure to Australian, Asian, European and U.S. markets through three separate week-long ‘customer adoption’ modules. Each startup benefits from spending one-on-one time bouncing ideas off mentors and other mentorship support, and the program is structured to facilitate ongoing conversations between startups and utilities to seed pilot projects, investments and other commercial relationships.

What We Learned From Our Participation Last Year

Our interactions with utilities like American Electric Power (AEP), AusNet Services and Electricity Supply Board (ESB) all contributed to shaping the last 12 months at Hygge Power. Whether or not a company that makes it through every module, the mentor conversations the program facilitates can be invaluable if the company demonstrates the capacity to learn.

For example, AEP offered great feedback on improving customer satisfaction. Focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to customers, AEP is aiming to become more of an energy partner with customers rather than being an energy provider, and because of that conversation, we were able to determine the value we can leverage customer-centric utilities like AEP to create highly satisfactory experiences for utility customers. We also spent a great deal of time with AusNet and ESB, major energy players in Australia and Ireland, respectively, discussing load shedding and the grid edge tipping point, alternatives to upgrading substations. These discussions brought us back to the drawing board, which helped shape our enhanced commitment to shifting critical plug loads without negatively impacting a customer’s energy uptime and therefore experience.

We look forward to this week’s opportunities to collaborate with these select utilities to receive further feedback, develop near-term “proto-pilots” and use case scenarios for our OPO products.

Stay Tuned!

Coziness in the Midst of the Bomb Cyclone

Two weeks back, half of the United States was impacted by an intense winter storm that caused flooding, white-out conditions and power outages. Labeled a "bomb cyclone” by meteorologists, the storm grounded more than 1,300 flights, left hundreds of thousands of Colorado residents without power and likely impacted hundreds of thousands more as the storm moved across the Midwest. 

 While difficult to relate to after a beautiful spring day like today, Hygge isn’t just for the winter months. It can be cultivated all year long.

Photo: Xcel Energy’s outage map for the greater Denver  area on the morning after the winter storm.

Photo: Xcel Energy’s outage map for the greater Denver

area on the morning after the winter storm.

 With our country’s aging grid infrastructure struggling to provide power to customers in the face of the historic storm, our reliance on electronics made these power outages particularly painful. No Wi-Fi left thousands of consumers feeling disconnected, and while the lack of power is merely annoying for some, it can be downright scary for those without light and heat for hours on end. 

 Whether using candles for light or snuggling under a blanket for warmth, power outages can be frustrating. We understand that frustration because it was in a similar storm that Hygge Power was born just a few short years ago.

Hygge Lifestyle

By now, almost everybody has heard of hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”).

 Stemming from this concept of people cultivating warm and cozy environments — whether in the workplace or at home, with friends, with family or all alone — hygge is regarded as a way of life for Danes. In 2016, it made Oxford Dictionary’s shortlist for Word of the Yearhygge is regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture —  and it’s our inspiration behind the name Hygge Power. 

 Hygge has definitely caught on as a lifestyle trend in the United States: the New York Times highlighted the public’s “fascination, bordering on obsession, with the Danish concept of hygge.” The social media site Pinterest predicted it would be one of the hottest home decor trends of 2017, and to date, users have tagged more than 4 million posts on Instagram with #hygge.

 Some of the most important elements of hygge stem from the days before electricity provided people with warmth, coziness and comfort. From candles and fireplaces to soft blankets and good food, hygge relies on creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. However, it’s rare to see people in the U.S. with a bunch of candles lying around today. And in-home fireplaces are seemingly even more rare as our modern lifestyles increasingly revolve around electricity.

 Hygge through Smartphones?

Let’s face it, in today’s fast-paced world, there aren’t always enough hours in the day to properly cultivate hygge. We neglect certain things because we simply don’t have the time or resources, but what if you could engage your outlet with your smartphone to automate lighting, heating and cooling? What if you could turn appliances on or off or schedule use? Additionally, what if you could seamlessly power your electronic devices without interruption during an outage? 

 You may not have a fireplace or candles, but instead you can access today's technology to immediately create an easy relationship between you and your outlet that enables a cozy and comfortable continuity of modern life. Today, we can equip our homes and apartments with easy and affordable devices like OPO to create cozy and comfortable environments, and these devices can also keep our most important electronics and appliances on — even in the event of a power outage — something the traditional outlet cannot do.

 That’s where Hygge Power comes in — to connect the two and bring the outlet to life. At Hygge Power, we’re connecting the Danish concept of hygge with power in the home, making people comfortable through electricity in two different ways: 

1)     Hygge Power gives energy consumers control, ensuring they can stay cozy, comfortable, warm and connected at any time of day. 

2)     Hygge Power ensures essential electronics remain powered up — even through the average U.S. power outage.

 Bringing Outlets to Life

At Hygge Power, we’re bringing the outlet to life to drive a hygge-centric way of life. Through our OPO line of products, we’re fostering an engaged relationship between energy consumers and their outlets. We’re bringing the outlet to life with an engaging smartphone application that affords consumers a level of control over the outlet that’s never been seen before. With OPO, consumers are not only more cozy and comfortable than ever before, they're also gaining awareness of their usage, preparedness information and control over the electricity on the other side of the outlet. 

 For example, should there be an outage or a storm on the horizon, our app can send you a notification ahead of time so that you can prepare to ensure the outage won’t impact your lifestyle. Don’t get left in the dark without food, security, entertainment or comfort. Or, if that seems like too much effort on your part, OPO can also manage devices and appliances plugged into it in the background. This way, you don’t have to worry about any outages, you just keep living the life you would normally live!

 With Hygge Power and OPO, everybody has a chance to create hygge without having to burn candles, chop wood for fires or move to Denmark. So don’t stress about the next power outage — Hygge Power ensures coziness and comfortability through electricity. Even in the face of a bomb cyclone, you can cultivate a warm, cozy and comfortable environment just by changing your relationship with your outlet.

Don’t Plug This into That: This is Why Powering Our Essential Electronics Can Be Costly

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Here’s our advice on how to power the things that matter most to you. We call it the Pico-Grid.

 We use a lot of energy each day. 

 While we use electricity practically every minute of every day, not everyone understands the major uses of electricity in our homes and offices. Reducing electricity usage is a big opportunity to reduce both monthly power bills and carbon emissions. And the crucial first step toward diminishing electricity usage is understanding it. 

 By looking at how electricity is used, we’re able to develop a better understanding of the way we individually consume electricity. When we’re able to separate electricity usage into different end uses, we can see where the major demand for electricity is in most home. But before we can understand how energy is used, we need to develop an understanding of some key terms and how they fit into our power system.

 Behavior-Based Critical Loads

The “plug load” refers to the amount of energy being used by a home or building through its electrical outlets by things like computers, TVs, printers, vending machines, refrigerators and more. The more appliances and electronic devices that are plugged in throughout the home or building, the larger the plug load. Because a home or building’s plug load can account for a huge percent of its total energy use, better managing plug loads can have a sizable impact on the home or building’s energy efficiency.

 Critical, or essential, loads are those electrical loads to which power supply has to be maintained. The power supply to these loads should never be interrupted because it powers the devices and appliances we need, or use, most. When discussing behavior-based critical loads, the way in which we interact with and use energy determines what the most critical loads are based on what is used most frequently or necessary to sustain the continuity of our lifestyle or business.

 According to “Home Idle Load: Devices Wasting Huge Amounts of Electricity When Not in Active Use,” the largest electricity uses in U.S. homes — heating and cooling, lighting and refrigeration — account for just 15 percent of always-on electricity consumption. Consumer electronics (televisions, computers, printers, game consoles, etc.), on the other hand, account for 51 percent. 

 Whether discussing refrigerators, Wi-Fi routers, security systems, entertainment systems, garage doors or sump pumps, these loads are most essential because we either use them most or need them — even during small outages. It’s in this behavioral-based idea where certain electronic devices and appliances can begin to be seen as more important than others (your washer/dryer, for example).

 Certain Electronics and Appliances are More Important

Because of this difference, essential electronics should have power priority over those less critical devices and appliances. If you think your Wi-Fi router or fridge is more important than other electronics around your home or office, the cost of that energy is more important, too. 

 When end users are able to assess how loads are broken up around their home or office, they’re able to ensure the continuity of their lifestyle or business without interruption in the event of an outage. By tracking your plug load, users can determine where energy is being wasted as well as used, which, in turn, allows for the use of advanced technologies to shut off the flow of energy to certain devices at certain times in order to cut down on wasted energy.

 Reliable Backup Power (also known as Distributed Energy Storage)

We need to consider a better way to manage the grid at a micro-utility scale. If you want backup power, or reliability of power for a home or building, there are energy storage options out there. You just have to spend a lot of money to get microgrid-sized or Tesla Powerwall-sized storage because you’re powering everything as opposed to the essentials. When it comes to energy storage today, all electronics and appliances are considered equal, they just need power. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

 It’s too expensive to generate energy all by yourself, so use the grid infrastructure that already exists. This is where the idea of a “pico-grid” that leverages distributed energy storage comes in, where consumers can power just the items that are most essential around the home and office first. With distributed energy storage on a pico-grid, it doesn’t matter what happens on the outside of the meter because if an outage occurs, you’re protected on the inside.

 When you manage personal grids at a micro-scale, it plays into the bigger picture of reliability and resilience as well. In fact, opting for a personal grid doesn’t mean you’re separating yourself, becoming off grid or completely independent from everything else. It’s actually the cooperation of the interconnected main grid down to your grid all working together to better manage plug loads. 

 What Matters Most to You?

Think about what’s most important to you because that impacts the grid at large, how energy is being managed and how sustainable and efficient it can be. All we have to do is look at how energy is used in our homes and office to understand our personal grid and take initiative to become more energy efficient. If we understand that and the notion that there’s other critical things that are important to power that keep our lives and businesses going, it might help the big picture of how to generate and distribute energy in the future.