Control & Automation

Why Smart Home Energy Data Is Key to Hooking Consumers

Unlocking the full potential of the smart home will come down to providing consumers with meaningful home intelligence insights like energy management data.

Why Smart Home Energy Data Is Key to Hooking Consumers
Energy data has the greatest potential to drive consumer engagement and maximize benefits of the smart home.

Amena Ali · June 23, 2017

Smart home devices live largely in their own silos, each with its own installation process, app and algorithms. Companies are racing to address this problem by creating integrated home security and energy management platforms to boost consumer value and peace of mind. Real-time data – energy data in particular – is key to achieving this vision, and hooking customers for life.

Really, we are beginning an information revolution. Ninety percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone – driven in part by the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT)-connected sensors and devices churning out petabytes of information related to consumers, businesses and government.

But inside the smart home, data available to consumers from residential connected devices has been relatively siloed and, ultimately, limited in its ability to deliver whole-home value for a whole lot of consumers.

That is why today’s ecosystem of smart home hardware and software providers, utilities, solar companies and others are focused on obtaining high resolution data and then making the data meaningful for consumers. And among the data sources with the greatest potential to drive consumer engagement and maximize benefits of the smart home is energy data.

Providing more meaningful data to consumers is essential to shifting the smart home promise to reality, saving money for your customers month after month and proving your value with every dollar saved.

Here's how to start.

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

More than 100 million U.S. households do not have a single smart home device, according to Parks Associates, and of those that do, most have one to two devices primarily for basic remote control capabilities.

Homeowners have no way to monitor and measure the health and efficiency of their non-connected appliances such as the HVAC, which consumes, on average, approximately half the energy of the home and whose malfunctioning can mean unplanned and significant repair costs, not to mention time and stress. 

The inability to know if there may be an HVAC airflow or coolant problem or an anomaly in how the sump pump or refrigerator is functioning is a chronic pain point for “non-connected” households. But one that is solvable if energy data can be measured and analyzed through the electrical network.

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Every appliance and device in the home is connected to a network, the power network that provides electricity within the home. Each appliance and device has its own electric signature or fingerprint which provides high resolution data useful for diagnosing the operational health of that appliance.

Extracting data from legacy non-connected appliances is now possible due to new energy monitoring technology that can tap into this power network in a simple and scalable manner.

Analyzing and interpreting high resolution appliance level data from one energy monitoring sensor can yield meaningful insights into the energy efficiency, proper functioning and status of all unconnected appliances. 

Unlocking the full potential of the connected home will in many ways come down to providing consumers with meaningful home intelligence insights that is possible only through scalable measurement and analysis of high resolution energy data — not just from emerging smart home devices, but also from these legacy “non-connected” appliances that hundreds of millions of homes rely on.

Information Must Be Actionable

If a consumer receives a monthly breakdown of spending from their credit card company and sees 40 percent of their bill is eating out at restaurants, it’s a fairly straight line conclusion that eating out less will save them money.

With energy usage and spending, the answer is not always so simple. Seeing a high bill doesn’t pinpoint what drove the high bill, where the inefficiencies reside and what could be done to reduce costs.

Sustained consumer engagement depends on educating consumers on converting data into actionable information, and then delivering those personalized insights in an intuitive fashion. Meaningful insights not only inform consumers on past and present energy usage, but also explain why they use that much energy and offer customized recommendations on how to save energy – such as their HVAC runtime use and appliances driving their utility bill.

Smart Thermostats: 50% of Consumers Who Think They Can Install DIY End Up Calling a Pro

Customers who are adopting rooftop solar are especially hungry for energy data that can enable and inform more environmentally friendly living. Parks Associates’ 360 View Update: Energy Management, Smart Home & Utility Programs research finds that 15 percent of U.S. broadband households plan to purchase solar panels in 2017.

Solar adopters want to understand how their generation compares to consumption, how close they can get to net zero, and when and how they are using energy. Real-time energy data measurement is being converted to meaningful engagement from insights that answer these questions and enrich the solar customer experience.

Energy Data Enables Intelligent Automation    

Real-time data on home energy consumption can be combined with real-time weather data to make smart thermostats even smarter. Understanding how much energy is needed to cool or heat a particular home on a particular day is critical to optimizing energy use. 

Energy efficiency models are being created for each home, and being implemented through partnerships to automatically optimize thermostat schedules to maximize comfort and minimize energy use.

Studies have shown that optimization of smart thermostats can save 10 percent to 16 percent on HVAC costs or $75-$125/year. Utilities are supporting this method both to increase home energy efficiency and manage peak demand on the grid, for instance, when the weather gets too hot or too cold.

Realizing the potential of what a smart home could do comes down to big data that is measured, aggregated and analyzed to deliver significant home intelligence to your consumers to better manage their single biggest investment, their home.

  About the Author

Amena Ali is chief revenue officer at Whisker Labs, manufacturer of sensor and software technology delivering home intelligence, energy savings and peace of mind. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Amena at [email protected]

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  Article Topics

Control & Automation · Business · News · Energy Management · Energy Monitoring · HVAC · Smart Home · Whisker Labs · All Topics
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