has landed a series A investment for its energy monitoring dashboards for homes — and it thinks its products will be well received by homeowners with or without utilities' help.
The New York-based startup didn't disclose terms of the investment from .406 Ventures
and Physic Ventures
, but CEO Seth Frader-Thompson on Tuesday called it a "typical series A" investment.
EnergyHub plans to use the money for testing its devices in utility pilot trials and for continued product development. That includes plans to have its energy dashboards and energy-monitoring wall socket adapters and power strips available to consumers and utilities in mid-2009, Frader-Thompson said.
EnergyHub's dashboard is a touch-screen, full-color display that shows data that is transmitted via ZigBee
from in-home energy monitoring devices in a variety of formats.
and a host of other startups and established companies make similar energy monitoring devices (see The Smart Home, Part I
). Frader-Thompson said that EnergyHub's dashboard offers a "higher-fidelity experience" than others he's seen.
Of course, all of these companies have a very limited real-world market at present, with their devices now almost entirely in use with utility pilot projects. EnergyHub is working on a 50-home pilot with an undisclosed utility itself, Frader-Thompson said.
But when it comes to selling its devices — which will likely be more than $100 for a starter kit, Frader-Thompson said — he doesn't think EnergyHub needs to wait for utilities to install "smart meters" able to beam energy usage data into homes for homeowners to start buying (see Smart Meter Installations Grow Nearly Fivefold
"The level of direct consumer interest and interest from retailers indicates that there's quite a bit of interest" independent of utility efforts, he said.
That's what a lot of other companies in the home energy monitoring and control field have been saying (see Will Utilities or Customers Lead in Smart Grid?
Home automation system maker Control4
, for example, is now offering energy usage and control features in its broader home entertainment and security automation system, although at $500 and up, it isn't a system that will fit every homeowner's budget (see A Broadband Smart Grid?
But other industry observers think that utilities will play a critical role in popularizing in-home energy systems, first by paying for the smart meter that will measure and broadcast the home's energy data, and then by offering rebates and incentives for people who curb their energy use.
EnergyHub's dashboard will be able to collect data from ZigBee-enabled smart meters when they do arrive, and is in talks with undisclosed meter makers using older, proprietary wireless communications, Frader-Thompson said.
Without a smart meter, homeowners could read the energy use data beamed from EnergyHub's wall socket adapters and power strips — or potentially other devices. While Frader-Thompson wouldn't go into details on what partnerships EnergyHub may be forming, he did point out that its dashboard has the ability to monitor and control temperature, though the company doesn't make "smart" thermostats.
EnergyHub has been around for a little more than a year, and received a $156,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
in December 2007. Frader-Thompson and several other EnergyHub execs once worked for Honeybee Robotics, which makes hardware for NASA's Mars missions and the U.S. military.