Three new partnerships in North America seek to advance the use of home energy management (HEM) products among consumers – a market that so far has a lackluster track record. Home security leader ADT has joined with Southern California Edison (SCE) in this effort; Verizon has teamed with Lowe’s to enable remote home energy functionality; and in Canada, the province of Ontario is working with HEM solution provider Energate on a project to stimulate consumer engagement.
Briefly, here are details of each alliance:
- In Southern California, SCE customers who also purchase ADT’s Pulse home management system will be able to connect it to their home’s smart meter to see energy consumption data, daily bill estimates, and energy savings alerts. The aim is to enable users to adjust consumption and lower their electric bills.
- U.S. customers of Lowe’s Iris solution can now remotely monitor and manage their thermostats or smart plug-connected appliances over Verizon’s wireless network; a USB modem connects to the Iris smart hub, allowing a user to control devices via a smartphone or a tablet without needing a wired broadband connection.
- In Ontario, Energate and the provincial government are in the midst of an 18-month project called the Consumer Engagement for the Smart Grid (CESG). Energate is deploying home energy dashboards, smart thermostats, web portals, and mobile applications to more than a thousand homes across Ontario, aiming to spur customer engagement with tools that extend the smart grid into the home.
All three efforts are evidence that the struggling HEM market is about to gain some new traction, and not all of the effort is coming from utilities. The involvement of Lowe’s, Verizon, and ADT shows that adjacent players see opportunities to combine smart grid technologies with their own innovations. Others, particularly broadband providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable, have jumped in recently as well with home energy management products and services.
This upward trend for HEM products was noted in two recent Pike Research reports, Home Energy Management and Home Area Networks, but our view is this market in North America will grow at a modest pace rather than a dynamic one. Not enough consumers are motivated at this point to take action. It was only a year and a half or so ago that Google and Microsoft abandoned their effort in the HEM space. For this market to really heat up, it will take an energy price jolt, which is possible but not imminent, or a regulatory stick to move the masses to adopt. Partnerships like these, though, provide a visible sign of the potential for HEM services.