Many of the early successes in IoT connected products came in the consumer smart energy space. Everyone could understand the value of a Nest thermostat – keeping a home more comfortable when occupied while also saving money. Nest delivered two unique value propositions that a standard thermostat did not; 1) capturing occupancy and set point data over time to better understand each home’s specific usage patterns, 2) providing an advanced interface, both on the thermostat and through a smartphone app, allowing for a deeper and richer level of control. As the IoT market has continued to mature there are a variety of new use cases and value propositions that continue to make smart energy a leading industry in IoT.
Just as IoT revolutionized the home thermostat and dramatically improved cost of making a home comfortable, the same transformation is happening across other parts of the home. Connected products are providing an unprecedented view for the consumer into how they are using energy across their home, with the biggest changes coming in electricity usage monitoring. A few years ago, a consumers only reasonable option for understanding electricity usage across the home was to install something like a Kill a Watt device on a specific outlet. While this gave rich insights into specific appliance or room level usage, it did not provide a full view of the house, enable remote control, or in many cases really change any consumer behavior. Now with the growth of IoT connected devices, there are a variety of smart home devices that give consumers a detailed view of what is using electricity in their home and the ability to remotely, or automatically, control those devices to reduce their energy usage.
Two great examples of how IoT is changing the residential electricity space are products from Sense and Lutron, providing a best in class home energy monitoring and automation respectively. Sense has taken the granular level detail that Kill a Watt brought to a specific outlet to the entire home’s electricity usage. Sense uses a sensor at the main electrical panel of the home to analyze electricity usage and determine the electrical patterns of everything using electricity in a home. Once Sense has a view into all the electrical devices it can provide a very detailed view of how electricity is being used across the house. Sense then takes this data and offers valuable visualization tools that show what devices are using the most electricity, when energy is being used, and identifies what electricity could be saved by turning devices off. This is where a product like Lutron Caseta dovetails in to make the usage data actionable. Lutron Caseta allows a home owner to connect light switches, outlets, and window shades to a centralized control system. This automates a home to provide pre-programmed use cases, such as “away” or “sleep,” and reminders that can save electricity. For example, a smartphone or Apple Watch can remind a home owner that the forgot to turn off their lights or device and then remotely turn it off. Sense and Lutron offer a level of monitoring and management that puts the consumer in control of their home electricity usage.
This level of granular control will continue to almost any part of the home, allowing consumers an astonishing level of control, to save money while also receiving a better level of service. A good illustration of this spreading across home energy usage cases is through Heatworks, makers of an inline electrical water heater. Heatworks uses advanced electrical current technology to heat the water directly, which delivers instant hot water at a very low cost of operation, as all energy is going directly into the water and none is being wasted. This also allows Heatworks to offer an end user app that lets them set the water temperature for time of day or a specific part of the home (kitchen sink vs. child’s bathroom). Consumers are given ultimate control over how their energy is being used to heat their water and where they want to save on energy costs where extremely hot water is not needed.
The promise of IoT is really coming to life in the residential smart energy space. There is a real-world opportunity to save money through connected products while at the same time providing a better level of service. The most exciting aspect of this transformation is that the consumer is put in charge, with a detailed view of how they are using energy, where they can save, and automation to make the process easy. IoT is introducing a new world where consumers don’t just get a single electric bill or one central water heater that heats water for 24 hours that is only typically needed for two hours a day. Rather, home owners are put in charge to better control their energy usage, paying smaller bills, but living the same comfortable life. It is an exciting time to see how IoT is continuing to advance the smart home energy space.