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Easy to use smart products will have big impact on energy solutions: Insights from Trusource Labs

Alton Martin, Chief Evangelist at Trusource Labs, provided insight on several key industry trends for Parks Associates’ eighth-annual Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer, which was held February 20-22 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas:

What do you think is the most challenging issue for your company as it relates to the residential energy management market?

As a supplier to the providers of residential power, the biggest impact we see is the potential for rapid growth in demand for our services. The current penetration rate for connected home is so low, if the predictions are anywhere close to reality, the explosion in the number of devices will drive tremendous demand for the types of services we provide.

What are the major challenges that your business must address in 2017? In 2020?

Dealing with increasing complexity not only of the individual products but the environment in which they operate. As more and more products are online 24/7 and the data flow dramatically increases, traditional home networks will get overwhelmed. We already see this. Networks set up assuming only a few products were online some of the time simply cannot handle scores of devices streaming at high data rates.

Furthermore, the products cannot be tested by the ORM in all the environments where they will be used, so the interoperability challenges continue to mount. Add to this concerns about security, and technical support operations will need to have increasingly sophisticated approaches to provide high levels of customer care.

What are the major barriers impacting consumer adoption of energy related products and services?

Three issues:

  1. Complexity– Many of these products are not as DIY as they seem to be. The ones that have the biggest impact on energy usage (energy monitoring, thermostats, air handling, etc.) tend to be the most complicated to install.
  2. Security– Lack of a unified security standard (such as UL in the electric product space) leads consumers to have unease about the products. Widespread hacking events with the attendant negative publicity give consumers pause.
  3. Cost– These products are often higher price points than consumers are used to paying. $250 to $300 for an IoT thermostat vs. $50 for a programmable one for many people is too much of a leap.

What are the biggest opportunities for the smart home industry to work with the utility industry?

Studies have shown the energy providers are the most trusted by consumers to be the channel of choice to install and maintain IoT devices. Yet, very few energy providers have programs beyond a thermostat, and many of them lack that offering. Current penetration rates are so low, and the upside so big, it is a mystery why more energy providers lack a coherent offering in this space.

What impact will smart products and smart home services have on consumer adoption of energy solutions?

If the products are easy to use, reliable, and have provable returns, the impact will be very high. If any of these three factors are missed, adoption will be far lower and the energy savings potential not reached.

Martin spoke on the session “Incentivizing the Smart Home: Energy Efficiency” on Tuesday, February 21 at 11:00 a.m. Other speakers on the panel included Tendril and NEEP.

For more information on the Smart Energy Summit, visit or register by clicking here.

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