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High-Tech Homes: The Pros and Cons of Smart Home Energy Management

Smart home devices, among other things, offer the ability to lower energy usage, control demand, support time-of-use tariff structures, and share vital energy data with customers. While smart thermostats have experienced broad success in utility programs, other smart home alternatives have seen limited uptake.
High-Tech Homes: The Pros and Cons of Smart Home Energy Management

Thermostats, lighting, plugs, appliances, water heating, electric vehicle (EV) charging, and window coverings were the seven prospective end applications for energy management that we focused on. The key considerations that drive smart home gadget ownership, are saving time, having peace of mind, and saving money. The enticing element of owning high-tech smart home equipment, along with energy savings, are secondary incentives. Smart thermostats, window coverings, and plugs are among the most promising energy-saving gadgets. The best options for cutting consumption and moving load appear to be smart EV charging, thermostats, and water heating.

Some smart gadgets, such as smart lighting and smart appliances, provide nothing in the way of energy or demand savings at the moment, but their non-energy benefits are appealing to customers. They might also assist utilities in making smart home kits and other comprehensive solutions more enticing.

A growing number of vendors are developing energy-focused smart home systems and services, ranging from home energy management platforms that provide energy data and analysis with limited smart device control to smart home-as-a-service offerings that treat energy as just one component of a larger system. There are also a few open platforms that are free or low-cost, are essentially vendor-neutral, and may provide utilities and their partners with a variety of opportunities.

Because of their potential to yield energy, demand, rate, and educational benefits, emerging smart home systems that meet the new ENERGY STAR Smart Home Energy Management Systems (SHEMS) specification are likely to work well for utility programs, but potential energy and demand reductions are currently unclear.

Voice assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant are gaining a lot of traction and could provide a lot of value to utilities as a new communication and engagement channel, but they still need a lot of work before automated smart device coordination for energy management becomes a viable option.

Overall, we expect smart devices and smart home systems to become more important components of residential utility efficiency, load management, customer engagement, and decarbonization initiatives, given the fast-paced market evolution in the smart home space and the numerous potential benefits for utilities. However, significant technical and programmatic problems remain, and utilities and their partners must embrace new techniques to better analyze real-world performance, assess actual energy gains, and tailor each technology or system to their customers' needs.

PowerX provides fully automated smart home monitoring solutions using the energy-efficient LoRa connectivity standard. Our system helps you monitor and optimize energy consumption and proactively avoid disasters like leaks. Get in touch today to find out more.

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