Home energy management in 2012, like every other year, finds us somewhere between the Flintstones and the Jetsons. There are nationwide television commercials that show a mom remotely turning on kitchen lights for her child using her smart phone. Two-way smart thermostats that can be controlled via the internet fly off store shelves. But dishwashers and refrigerators are hardly communicating with a utility to turn themselves on when energy is cheapest.
Progress is slow and steady in the home energy management and connected home industry. But mostly slow. Companies with solid analytics that can offer immediate savings to utilities without having to spend too much saw progress in 2012. But the notion of a home area network still seems like the Jetsons. The internet of things just hasn’t quite made it to the average home.
Americans Still Clueless
Before we get to some of the feel-good trends of this year, let’s start with the harsh reality. People still have pretty much no idea what drives energy use in their homes.
The most important question is, whose fault is that?
There’s plenty of blame to go around: apathetic Americans who pay relatively low prices for electricity; utilities that are unable to become the trusted advisor Americans need on energy use; and then there’s the ever-increasing onslaught of gadgets that offset the strides made in efficiency standards.
At least every six months, Greentech Media and other news outlets report on these sad statistics that barely budge. And while people like to complain about heating and cooling bills, one recent study found that bills would have to go up at least $10 per month before a homeowner is willing to shell out for energy-efficiency retrofits.
As utilities choose, or are mandated, to offer more energy portals and reports that educate the average consumer, this could start to shift in coming years. But we’re not there yet. Not even close.