Forget about empowering the customer with information or tailoring solutions to the individual -- EcoFactor wants to do all the work on their end to help homeowners slash their energy use.
The partnership will have Service Experts install EcoFactor's service in approximately 1,200 homes with six months of free service for $19.99 (it would normally cost in the neighborhood of $500). The service comes with a smart thermostat and a communications gateway that connects with the customer's DSL or cable. After the first six-month period is up, service for a single-thermostat home is $8.99 per month (customers can sign up here).
So what does that buy a residential customer? EcoFactor makes about 25 to 30 adjustments every day on a smart thermostat via an exchange of data between the home gateway and EcoFactor's servers. EcoFactor's servers then modulate the temperature up or down according to parameters set by the homeowner and data gathered about their usage and behavior.
"The general feedback is that people like the automation," said Scott Hublou, EcoFactor's SVP of Products. "They don't want to be facility managers. We all have lives to live, and energy consumption just isn't that high a priority."
The centralized servers also analyze local weather patterns in order to forecast or devise a cooling/heating strategy for the next 24 hours. The weather data, along with the historical data about your home, helps to devise a thermal profile of your home that allows the company to fine-tune power consumption and reduction.
Because heating and cooling are some of the largest energy hogs in the home, the San Carlos, Calif.-based company said it could save the average house about 25-30 percent of its energy bill. Those are substantial savings for Oncor as well, which is looking for EcoFactor to help reduce peak demand this summer. But John Steinberg, CEO of EcoFactor, said their product was more about saving customers money than focusing on grid-level issues.
"A lot of the focus from the industry side has been based upon the assumption that the missing link for consumers is information. If we can just provide the right information at the right time we'll be able to get [customers] to change what they do," said Steinberg.
"But we think this is not about behavior modification and giving them information to lead them to do something different. If you can automate this, you can skip this whole step of figuring out the right piece of information."
The approach of not empowering customers, but rather arming them with energy savings tools, is not unique to EcoFactor. Powerhouse Dynamics also has a system that it hopes customers will install and then forget about to manage systems across the household. And while EcoFactor is not managing other systems, like pool pumps, it says it expects to expand as the company grows.
As for its path into the home, this time around EcoFactor is teamed up with Oncor, but it is also pursuing multiple channels, including HVAC providers and broadband companies. In the future, your energy savings just might pay for your HBO.