Is Alarm.com the Bellwether of Home Energy Management?

August 15, 2013
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Alarm.com not only allows control of thermostats and lights by iPad or smartphone, it boasts an array of intelligent energy automation features.

If you want to know where energy management in the home is going, you may want to track Alarm.com.

Although Alarm.com is known primarily as a security company, it’s doing a lot with energy management and believes deeply in it. “We continue to see real great adoption for connected home technologies,” says Jay Kenney, vice president of marketing for Alarm.com. “The energy management piece of that is fastest growing. The most common thing added is a thermostat, followed by lighting modules.”

Alarm.com not only offers Wi-Fi-connected thermostats, it automates, automates, automates with other systems and modules in the house. And the company has added whole-house and device-level energy monitoring with Aeon Lab and Jasco devices and will soon offers solar options with 1BOG (One Block off the Grid).

“Solar is an entry point into the home. That type of consumer is really interested in energy savings and environmental concerns,” Kenney says.

The company is also tapping the recovering homebuilder market by powering Schneider’s Wiser home energy management system now being installed in homes by production builder KB Home. “The home builder market starting to come back, and they’re looking for home control features as differentiators.”

But perhaps the company’s biggest innovations are in automating energy savings. An Extreme Temps feature allows users to program automatic thermostat setbacks when temperatures get too high in the summer, for instance. “Washington, D.C. was getting close to 100 degrees this summer, and I normally keep my house at 77, but when it hit 95 we went up to 79 degrees with no perceptual change to comfort level,” says Kenney.

The Extreme Temps feature allows you to set automatic thermostat setbacks when temperatures get too high or low, to help save energy.

The Extreme Temps feature allows you to set automatic thermostat setbacks when temperatures get too high or low, to help save energy.

A Smart Schedules Activity Patterns feature leans a family’s behavior with systems and creates smarter and more energy-saving thermostat settings. And Geo-Services allow users to set automated functions such as starting the air conditioner when someone is so many miles from the house, or sending alerts that you’ve left something on.

Hardware partners include 2Gig and Interlogix for security and control panels, Schlage, Kwikset and Yale digital locks, LiftMaster garage doors, Trane thermostats, Viper car alarms, and Lutron lighting and motorized shading. Dealers also sell Alarm.com’s emPower platform of lighting modules, thermostats and door locks.

Efficiency Beyond the Cool Factor

Kenney says we are now moving beyond the cool factor of controlling a thermostat via a smartphone. “We’ve seen the penetration of smartphones in the market as being a key driver of these technologies. Since my Alarm.com system was installed, I haven’t touched a thermostat in the house. It went from a cool factor to an expectation. The shift we see is going from control-based systems to systems doing things on your behalf.”

And that trend is really just beginning.

“The comfort aspect we see as well,” he says. “[For instance], tell me how long it could take to bring the house to this temperature. And with smart schedule activity patterns, the system gets more intelligent over time and more customized for the homeowner. All that info over time creates an activity pattern and we can present that to consumer. Over time the consumer could say ‘Automatically make these adjustments for me.’ That’s sort of the next evolution, because in our system you have all these inputs and you really can apply a new level of intelligence.”

Alarm.com has plenty of competition in that regard, from learning remotes such as Nest to Comcast’s Xfinity Home EcoSaver option that connects a thermostat to cloud-based analytics from EcoFactor that makes small automatic adjustments to a thermostat, based on learning the home’s thermal and HVAC system performance characteristics.

Intelligent energy efficiency is on the rise with these systems and more.

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