Friday, October 01, 2010

Slow growth forecast for home energy nets

Consumers are interested in smart appliances and energy monitors needed for more efficient homes. But utilities are moving slowly into home energy networks, opening a door for independent services, according to market watchers at Park Associates (Dallas).

As many as 53 million smart electric meters will be installed in the U.S. by the end of 2014, up from just 23 million today, Parks forecasted. However, even by 2014, only 6.8 percent of them—3.6 million smart meters—will have two-way home area networking capabilities turned on, Parks said.

"Utilities are taking their time figuring out their approach to the home, so there is a growing market for independent approaches," said Bill Ablondi, director of home services research at Parks.

The company predicts that by 2014 about 5.6 million homes will use energy-monitoring networks that work independent of utilities.

"We think there are viable markets for both types of services," said Ablondi in a webinar.

"There's a huge opportunity here because peak electric demand is growing faster than peak supply, and that drives prices up for utilities and consumers," Ablondi said.

Specifically, consumers said they are willing to pay a $71-85 premium on $1,000 appliance for 10 to 30 percent savings on their utility bills. But such relatively low premiums could be a real challenge for designers working on smart appliances, Ablondi said.

About 47 percent of consumers Parks survey showed some interest in the emerging class of home electricity monitors. They said they would pay $86 to $106 for the devices if they would cut 10 to 30 percent off their bills.

Parks forecasted the number of home energy monitoring devices will rise to sales of 13.1 million units in 2014, up from just 700,000 devices this year.

From the article, "Slow growth forecast for home energy nets" by Rick Merritt

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