API: application programming interface.
Hmm, that sounds complicated. What does it do?
Yeah, it’s definitely more of a techie thing. But the story of Amber’s API is one that speaks to the future of energy for all Amber customers too, which is pretty cool.
Plus, we’re the only Aussie energy retailer that has one!
What do you mean, the ‘future of energy’?
Well, as Myles, our lead software engineer, who developed the API, says: “Customers can save the most money and make the biggest environmental impact when they shift their energy usage to cheaper, greener times. Our API allows our more tech savvy customers to shift their usage without having to think about it, via home automation. It’s a low effort way to get a big reward”.
This is exactly how Amber sees it becoming possible to accelerate Australia’s push to 100% renewables. By making it super easy for more people to use cheap, green energy - without having to think twice.
So who can use this API - and what are they doing with it?
Primarily people with a bit of coding experience at the moment, or people who run Home Assistant.
By tapping into Amber’s API they can build their own home automations for devices like batteries, water heaters and air-conditioning units. Many are also using the API to run reports on their energy usage, giving them personalised insights into whether it’s worth adding solar or a home battery to their energy set-ups 🤓.
What are the benefits?
With the API you can set up your batteries to automatically charge when prices are super low or negative (free energy - or even getting paid to use energy!), or to discharge power when prices get really high. This can save you loads on top of the savings you get from Amber’s wholesale prices.
Another home automation that’s popular is automating air conditioning systems, electric hot water systems or pool pumps - ensuring that these devices run when it’s greener and cheaper.
Well that all sounds great. But what if I don’t have any tech skills - can I still benefit from automation?
Good question. In that case, you’re like most of Amber’s customers. And we don’t expect you to learn to code to experience the future of energy.
It’s why Amber is currently developing technology called SmartShift that enables customers with no tech skills to optimise their devices, from batteries, to pool pumps, to electric water heaters.
SmartShift works really well with devices that have flexibility in the times that they use power from the grid (or when they charge and discharge power in the case of home batteries) while still providing their full service to you. SmartShift™ works by remotely controlling the device through an API integration or by controlling your appliances with a small physical SmartShift™ device that we communicate with via wifi (depending on the appliance).
The goal is an Australia where millions of people have the ability to automatically use energy when it’s cheaper and greener, driving Australia to 100% renewables faster.
Currently the tech is being trialled in South Australia, with the support of the Government of South Australia. If all goes well - results are looking good so far - the automation tech will be available to Amber customers in other states by early 2022.
If you're in South Australia and want to be part of the initial trial, or outside South Australia, and want to be one of the first to jump on the bandwagon in your state, let us know via this form.
I want to give the API a go. How do I use it?
If you do have some coding skills and would like to give the DIY version a go, more info on accessing the API can be found here (or head here if you have a Home Assistant). You can also get advice and share tips and tricks on using Amber’s API from other users by joining in the conversation here.
There's also this GitHub repo from our customer, Graham Lea, who’s been using the API to check out his energy usage over the past year to plan a new solar system.
In the meantime, here’s a word from Amber customer and API aficionado, Anthony Healey, about some of the ways he’s making the most of Amber’s API (FYI, he’s got a large solar array on a two bedroom house in NSW):
“I reached out about the API initially because I wanted to know how much of the energy I was generating in my solar panels that was being sent back to the grid, versus how much I was using in my home.”
“The API has allowed me to see what my energy exports are and the data I’ve got access to now has also really informed my thinking around getting a battery. Access to my data is probably the most valuable thing for me as an Amber customer - and something I wasn’t able to get from any other retailer. That said I’m going to wait until I have at least 12 months of data before I make any big decisions!”.
Now Anthony’s working towards using the API to automate his air-conditioning.
“The air-conditioning is by far the most expensive thing to run. Ideally I want to be able to set a target temperature and figure out the most efficient way to keep the house at that temperature basically all year round.”
“Then, if we bring a battery into the picture, automatically charging and discharging that (based on price signals) is the really big goal.”
Are you using Amber’s API? Get in touch to let us know how and your experience so far: firstname.lastname@example.org.