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I want my 'smart' home! Or do I?

26 October 2010
I want my 'smart' home! Or do I?

By Molly Webb, Head of Smart Technologies, The Climate Group.

Unlocking behaviour change is one of the key drivers of energy efficiency, and information and communications technologies are starting to provide a link to consumers like us who will be making new choices, by providing us with better information on how we can monitor and manage our home energy use.

But there is much more to be done if consumers are to be part of the solution.

On October 21st, The Climate Group hosted speakers Richard Hanks, Smart Metering Solutions Architect at Acccenture and Michael Terrell, Clean Energy Policy Counsel at Google on a webinar focused on home energy information. Tashweka Anderson, who blogged about her views on putting consumers at the center of innovation in the home, also provided insights from her own experience taking part in a home energy management trial in the Borough of Brent in London. (Watch the webinar)

Rick Hanks presented Accenture's consumer research showing that utilities cannot rely on current tools for market segmentation when it comes to understanding tomorrow's energy consumers, and that people think they know much more about what will deliver efficiency than they do. Unfortunately, utilities were also not the most trusted source to turn to for this information, according to their survey. This might be good news for IT companies looking at the market space. (View Rick's presentation)

Michael showed us a demo of Google powermeter, and mentioned other technologies for visualising and providing feedback to customers that are already on the market. Key policies to watch are in California where the Public Utilities Commission is deciding on the rules for third parties to access energy information, with consent of consumers. Google was also a leading company in calling for the US administration to look at policies that provide access to energy information for consumers (find out more about the letter to President Obama). These kinds of policies would unlock innovation in services. "We need a platform for energy services" that can allow a range of solutions for consumers to be developed. (View Michael's presentation)

It is crucial that we start with the consumer in their homes and cities, where they will be living and making investments in the coming decade. Different consumers will react to incentives in different ways - some will want to see a meter next to their kettle, some will want a mobile phone app to turn off appliances remotely. Companies are trialing these models of engagement today.

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