If you missed research firm Parks Associates’ annual Smart Energy Summit back in February, you can catch up on the details with a summary released by the company, as well as some video interviews of key executives who were present, such as keynoters Roy Perry of Alarm.com and Ted Reguly of San Diego Gas & Electric, who have partnered on a “Reduce Your Use” Thermostat Pilot Program, as well as Jeremy Eaton of Honeywell and Robbie Simpson of GE.
We’ve grouped some of the key takeaways from the summary below, but for more details download the summary itself.
Time of Use rates
Living a green life does not provide a strong economic incentive. Rather, saving money is important to people, and TOU rates will change that value proposition.
Salt River Project in Arizona says its TOU tariffs have been adopted by nearly 30 percent of its residential customers, by offering a credit if they did not save money in TOU. Overall residential consumers saved 7 percent.
The Importance of Mobile
Four years ago, the focus was on devices and how they’ll be used, but now there is agreement that mobile devices are the portal to the consumer.
More than 80 percent of interactions with the Honeywell smart thermostat are on mobile applications rather than at the thermostat.
Utilities to Open Markets
Many utilities originally felt protective and possessive over their space, but now they are more open to collaboration.
SDG&E sees that future energy management products and services will more likely be from the open market. This shift to open-market solutions is an exciting way to bring costs down and add creativity in the industry.
In the market-centric approach, utilities send out appropriate price signals that accurately represent cost and let consumers choose. Then the market will bring products and services to meet consumer needs.
Consumers already have smart devices in their homes that can be leveraged for programs and co-marketing.
Utilities can leverage the smart devices consumers will have in their homes to implement their programs, provided they are willing to loosen restrictions on which devices can be used.
Southern California Edison customers are now able to register HAN devices independent of SCE. Customers can purchase the device from anywhere and register it online.
Texas also a smart meter portal online that allows devices to be registered for the consumer’s HAN, but demand isn’t there yet.
To expand adoption of programs and services provided over Wi-Fi, utilities may look into subsidizing the cost of a router for homes with broadband, but it is unlikely they will subsidize broadband for homes.
Different Selling Points
The market has moved from one value proposition to acknowledging several value propositions that will resonate with different consumers.
Energy programs must engage customers first, but ultimately an approach that uses automation will attract the most people. Customers want technologies that work for them so they don’t have to be engaged with their energy information more than they prefer.
Current utility business models for demand response programs are top-down approaches where the utility provides the thermostats and performs installation and maintenance. A new bottom-up approach is more consumer-centric and would lower program costs for utilities.
Customers prefer the carrot to the stick; they want a financial reward for offsetting their energy usage and helping utilities avoid building more plants.
Bundle Energy Management—With Security
Alarm.com provides a suite of services, including energy management, that is grounded in security, which is a strong value proposition for consumers.
Consumers’ desires for home management are hierarchical. At the base, consumers value safety propositions. Consumers that value two services want safety and security. Another segment of customers want a comprehensive system that includes safety, security and energy management. Energy management should therefore be bundled. Even when energy offerings are free, only 50 percent of households take advantage of the offer.
Security is a core value proposition, but it is not the killer application of the connected home. The market for connected products will take off because of the breadth of services. Customers will not walk into a store needing a connected home; adoption starts with a single product solution, says Kevin Meagher, vice president and general manager of Smart Home for Lowe’s Companies
Interoperability cannot exist solely in the cloud. Core actions need to be local in the gateway and not in the cloud. For instance, consumers need to have the lights turn on quickly and turn on even when the Internet is down.
Smart Appliances to Dawn?
Less than 2 percent of customers will replace an appliance while it’s still working for better energy efficiency.
Players see a big opportunity for increased revenue through recurring monthly revenues, but customers won’t pay more for each additional product they add to their home network. In the long run, product and service will blend together.
Interoperability and Protocols to Watch
Several interoperability solutions are being developed and deployed. Gateway solutions such as HGI and OSGi provide an abstraction layer for multiple applications such as ZigBee HA and Z-Wave so that programmers have a uniform interface. The UPnP forum is also working to create uniform application standards, and the UPnP+ initiative is working to bridge solutions from multiple industries.
Zigbee Smart Energy Protocol 2.0 (SEP 2) defines energy actions for a device but doesn’t define application-specific actions. It is still an open discussion point as to how SEP will be integrated into other application profiles
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