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Smart Home

Home Energy Management: Enabling Remote Control of Energy-consuming Products

There is growing interest from consumers in saving energy and being more energy efficient. Energy savings and reduction of energy bills have always been leading drivers of smart home technology. When included in energy management programs, smart home devices help reduce barriers to saving energy.
Smart home device capabilities include the following:
  • Remote control of energy-consuming products – Smart home devices allow consumers to move beyond insight to control. The ability to manage the status of energy-consuming devices remotely gives smart home device owners an advantage in the ability to save energy. This ability makes energy insights more actionable.
  • Automation of energy-saving actions – Beyond remote control, smart devices make it possible to automate some energy-saving actions. For example, smart lights can be preprogrammed to shut off automatically at certain times. Similarly, smart thermostats can learn, over time, to detect when no one is home and automatically adjust temperatures. Automating these actions decreases the level of consumer effort involved in energy savings and increases reliability compliance. Energy-saving use cases for smart home devices already have strong consumer appeal.
For smart thermostats, sensing when someone is home and making adjustments automatically to save money are among the leading features influencing device purchases.
For smart refrigerators, automatically adjusting their settings in ways that minimize energy consumption is the most appealing feature of the appliance.
Digital Engagement: Demand Response
Smart meters and devices can improve consumer engagement with demand response programs in the following ways:
  • Targeted messaging – Disaggregation of residential smart meter data makes it possible to determine which homes are driving peak usage. Understanding which homes and which products within those homes consume energy during peak periods enables utilities to target consumers that will have the greatest impact and those that will likely be most engaged in the program.
  • Occupancy data – Digital thermostats can detect occupancy data and facilitate energy optimization. For example, when Google Nest thermostats are in Away Mode, energy providers can use it as an opportunity, with permission, to make larger adjustments to thermostat set points for participants in Nest’s Rush Hour Rewards TOU program. For consumers signed up for the Rush Hour Rewards program, Google Nest thermostats automatically adjust the household temperature when energy consumption in their specific area is high. This generates even greater savings for program participants and minimizes consumer discomfort and program compliance.
  • Load choreography – Given that smart home products can communicate with each other, the cyclic loads of these devices can be coordinated so that they are not all running at the same time. For example, the different air conditioning (AC) units in the home can be programmed so that they do not run at the same time. Alternatively, on a very hot day where AC units do need to operate at the same time, the hot water heater can be programmed to automatically turn off at this time, thereby limiting peak demand. Preprogramming limits consumer effort.
  • Quick response to DR events – Smart devices can respond very quickly to demand response signals. Many prior DR systems required advanced notice to respond effectively to requests, which makes them less effective DR assets compared to smart home devices. New smart home devices can help overcome this barrier.

Consumers want the benefits of energy savings, but today many do not take more than simple, minor actions to save energy. Utilities must make the benefits of energy-saving behaviors worth the effort and investment. The digitization of the home enables alerts and automation that reduce the level of effort needed by consumers to save energy, thereby increasing their engagement in energy savings actions.

This is an excerpt from a white paper "Home Energy Management: Driving Consumer Engagement and New Revenue." published in partnership with Cox Energy. Read more here: in energy management programs, smart home devices help reduce barriers to saving energy. Smart home device capabilities include the following:

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