Energy Management for the Masses


Will home-energy management be the next hot-spot for connected devices? A number of big companies seem to think so. During the past year, we have seen Google, GE, Microsoft, and others become more deeply involved in developing energy-management systems for homeowners.

Recently, Intel unveiled a home-energy management proof-of-concept reference design based on its Atom processor. The design is for a tablet-like device that could be used to control thermostats and appliances in the home.

While the industry seems to have plenty of devices in development for home-energy management, whether or not consumers will be willing to pay for the services is another question. A recent study by Parks Associates found 15-20% of U.S. consumers say they are very willing to pay a $5-$10 monthly subscription fee for an energy-management service that promises a 15% savings on their energy bill.

The study also found smartphone owners and people with “do-it-yourself security cameras” were much more likely to sign up for energy-management services or to buy energy saving products.

Parks Associates believes a system needs to perform various tasks to have the most consumer appeal. “Current solutions with the best chance for success cross platforms and combine multiple functions,” says Bill Ablondi, director of home systems research for Parks Associates. “For example, ADT is including an iPhone app with its home surveillance systems, which can be used to adjust lighting and thermostats as well as check security settings.”

While it seems as if there is a solid market for home energy-management systems, there will also be stiff competition to win customers. And with all the interest in this marketplace from major companies, it would seem consumers should soon have their pick of products.

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June/July 2014
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