We can learn some lessons in selling energy efficiency from thermostats.
Yes, the boring, old and hopelessly utilitarian thermostat—until now, that is. Today’s thermostats can feature colorful LCD touchscreens, video, and all sorts of features and functions that, simply put, make it easier to sell people on energy efficiency and make it easier for them to be energy efficient.
1. Make it simple.
There’s a reason that a great majority of programmable thermostats already installed in homes are NEVER programmed. People think they’re too complicated. And some of the early ones were. But others aren’t, so what’s the hangup? Likely, it’s because of too many buttons, dials, things to think about. Add those up, and it never gets programmed. By contrast, the Nest Learning Thermostat, designed by former Apple folks who brought us the iPod, is a simple, round dial with one “button” but multiple functions. Simple. Not imposing. Learns your habits to make adjustments automatically. (Honeywell is now suing Nest Labs for patent infringements, but you get the point.)
2. Automate as much as possible.
A new thermostat set to hit the market in the second quarter is the perfect example of this. Allure Energy’s EverSense uses proximity sensing via an app on an iPhone or Android-based smartphone that reads the phone’s GPS and can ramp up the heat or cooling in a home when you reach a preset distance away, so half way home on your commute the HVAC ramps back up to a comfortable level.
Explains Allure’s Vice President of Business Development Jim Mills: “How can we make sure that people don’t have to remember to manage their energy and how can we do it for them efficiently? In the end, we think people want to have interaction with their homes be automatic and easy.”
3. Don’t sell energy management alone.
As a sales pitch to many consumers, energy management can’t stand on its own, despite the potential cost savings and environmental benefits. So pair it with other features and functions—and bake it into your systems design.
Again, Allure Energy’s upcoming EverSense thermostat offers a good example of this. The wall-mounted or tabletop controller (used with wall-mounted wired thermostats) will feature weather information, animated energy efficiency tips, and music streaming from your smartphone. That adds value to just having thermostat functionality—and it should for a $349 device.
I personally don’t know if I’d buy a thermostat just because it can do music streaming and has a pair of speakers attached. I don’t expect that of a thermostat.
But energy management and efficiency can be sold alongside audio and video, home theater, lighting and home control, you name it.
Make it simple, automate it as much as possible, and bake efficiency right into your systems design. That’s the way to do it.