Smart Home Technology And Electricity Companies – Enhancing Energy Efficiency

In addition to reducing energy waste and enhancing comfort, innovative home technology provides actionable insights for consumers. Electric utilities can help customers take action on personalized insights through their voice assistants by integrating this granular data into their digital strategies.

However, if utilities fail to do so, big tech companies will begin building their digital relationships with customers. This could lead to lower participation in programs and lost marketplace sales.

Smart Thermostats

A smart thermostat can save energy by learning your schedule and habits, then working automatically to heat and cool your home. Smart thermostats plug into your existing HVAC system and communicate with your smartphone or tablet via WiFi.

They also monitor your location to know when you’re away for work, school, or a day trip. That way, they can switch to eco settings while you’re gone. And when you get home, your thermostat will switch back to a regular operation based on your routine.

The best smart thermostats can also sense when the grid is most stressed and recommend avoiding using energy during peak times. For example, a smart air conditioner may delay its defrost cycle during peak demand to reduce the burden on your electric utility.

Smart thermostats can be a good fit for time-of-use rate programs, and the data they collect can help electric utilities better understand customer behavior and improve J.D. Power scores. But sluggish adoption has left smart thermostats as “a substantive energy conservation opportunity untapped,” according to a recent analysis.

To help drive smart thermostat growth, some electricity providers, like the electric company in Midland, Texas, are partnering with device manufacturers. For instance, Houston-based NRG Energy Inc. recently announced that it would buy Vivint Smart Home for $2.8 billion. Tech giants like Amazon and Google are also moving into the market for smart devices that monitor a household’s energy usage. They’re in a race to capture customers, and that competition could hurt the market for energy providers who sell their own devices.

Smart Plugs

Smart plugs are simple to use and help users cut energy costs. They act as a gatekeeper between an outlet and an appliance, controlling whether or not power can reach the device. This cuts phantom drain, which accounts for around 20% of household energy use.

Many smart plugs have built-in timer functions, letting you schedule when to turn on and off certain appliances. Using these features, you can save electricity by turning on your coffee maker in the morning just before you wake up or by scheduling your water heater to turn on just before you get home from work.

Controlling your devices remotely can also help you save on electricity costs. If you’re on a time-of-use plan with cheaper rates during off-peak hours, you can set your smart plug only to enable power, saving you monthly money.

Energy companies need to offer innovative home technology solutions. This helps them keep their customers and prevents tech giants from taking away market share. Houston-based NRG Energy Inc. recently announced a $2.8 billion deal to acquire Vivint, which sells a range of smart home products, including lights, cameras, and locks. This could give NRG a significant presence in consumers’ homes and help them become their primary provider for these technologies.

Smart Lighting

Homeowners can save money on energy bills by connecting their lighting to an intelligent system. Smart bulbs and switches are an affordable way to start a smart home upgrade, and they can be used to control other appliances, thermostats, and even video doorbells. They also offer added convenience, such as remotely turning on or off appliances and electronics. This is especially useful during high-demand times when energy costs are highest.

Smart lights can be programmable to switch on and off at specific times, creating an energy-efficient schedule that saves you money. You can even use your smartphone to adjust the temperature and brightness of your lights. This type of automation is more than just convenient; it’s also an important safety feature. It can help prevent burglars from seeing when you’re away, making your home more secure.

Energy companies should partner with smart home technology providers to promote and support these technologies. According to the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, 42 percent of customers say that the involvement or endorsement of their electricity provider would influence their adoption of smart home technologies. Otherwise, these tech giants could take over the market, leading to decreased participation in demand response programs and other utility offerings. Luckily, energy utilities have an advantage over these giants: consumers already trust them.

Smart Appliances

These devices can also sync with smartphones to offer greater control and efficiency. For example, smart TVs can be set to maintain a specific schedule or respond to voice commands. In addition, they can be accessed from applications and stream video or music from the Internet.

The most advanced smart home appliances can also be connected to energy companies’ online systems. This integration allows homeowners to track and understand their energy usage and consumption. It can also help them to avoid energy-related charges.

The first mass-market Smart Home Energy Management System (SHEMS) to earn ENERGY STAR certification was Samsung’s SmartThings platform. It is designed to reduce energy usage by automatically managing networked products such as lights, plugs, and other appliances.

These smart home devices can be set to turn off automatically during peak demand periods, thus helping to flatten out the peak and improve grid resiliency. Some can also be programmed to alert homeowners if they use too much electricity.

Energy utilities should consider partnerships with tech giants to encourage their customers to use smart home technology. Otherwise, the power industry could lose customer relationships to these competitors that already collect and use data about how their consumers use energy. This data is a key part of their digital relationship with customers, which they can leverage to offer time-of-use rates and participation in demand response programs.


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