WeatherBug doesn’t just want to provide its weather data to energy management companies -- it wants to be an energy management company.
Last year, WeatherBug, which is owned by Earth Networks, launched its e5 program, which is similar to EcoFactor’s software-as-a-service offering. Like EcoFactor, WeatherBug is hardware-agnostic and makes micro-adjustments to HVAC systems to save energy without homeowners even noticing a difference.
Earlier this year, e5 was rebranded as SmartHome Plus. Now, WeatherBug is drawing on its vast weather network to offer SmartHome ScoreCard to San Diego Gas & Electric customers.
The scorecard leverages Green Button to take in smart meter data, then merges it with localized weather data to deliver personalized insight into home electricity use. In some ways, the e5 program was the precursor of the reports, since it offered a report to homeowners at the end of summer program.
Those reports can compare users' information to neighbors much like Opower does, but they can also specify how a particular home performs in areas such as wind andsolarinfiltration. With smart meter data, it can put the data in dollar terms. Instead of just comparing a particular user to neighbors, it also provides a score from 1 to 10 on factors like wind, solar, temperature, and humidity. If a particular user scores a 6 on solar, for instance, the system could suggest shading the home's AC compressor. If the system assigns a score of 1 in any category, it will suggest a home audit.
“If you’re going to spend money, we tell you, ‘Here’s where you spend it,’” said David Oberholzer, director of energy products and business development at Earth Networks.
Oberholzer, who, like millions of others in the U.S. is signed up to receive Opower reports, said that WeatherBug’s granular data allows for more customization than is possible in Opower’s reports. WeatherBug would like to work with utilities, but will take the scorecard directly to customers as well. Ads served on the WeatherBug app encourage users who live in a utility area that supports Green Button Connect to enroll in the scorecard program. It’s $4.99 annually or free with an ad-supported version.
If WeatherBug could enroll thousands of customers into its program in any single utility territory, it could then partner with a utility to tailor energy efficiency programs to those participants.
WeatherBug is not stopping at just energy efficiency, however. The company is also making a play to be the platform aggregator for the ‘bring your own thermostat’ programs, such as the ones being run by Austin Energy and Southern California Edison. Oberholzer said the platform will also be able to aggregate different thermostats, much like what EnergyHub and AutoGrid are doing, and provide both capacity and economic demand response to utilities.
“We have the sophistication to model the house and how much load we can shed,” said Oberholzer. This allows for residential demand response to play in economic demand response programs. CenterPoint is also piloting WeatherBug as a residential load forecasting tool in its territory.
Granular weather data is an asset in a busy market that seems to have more competition every day, but it also takes a robust platform that can meet utility needs to gain market share. Of course, there are plenty of partners outside the utility space, including big-box stores, service providers and home security companies. Although WeatherBug is still in the pilot stage with most utilities, it is ready to play ball with the big guys.
“It’s taken a while to get there,” admitted Oberholzer, “but we think we’ve really started to show our weather data is a difference-maker and a major factor.”
Here's what a ScoreCard would look like: