Besides delivering energy savings, start-ups like Google’s acquisition Nest can arm utilities with tools to engage with consumers and remain competitive, says Lux Research
Home energy management (HEM) – technologies that give residential customers energy dashboards, user advice, and automated and adaptive controls, among other features – is emerging as the next frontier for forward-thinking utilities. HEM can drive energy savings from 1.5 per cent to more than 40 per cent, but their value to utilities goes beyond savings – to customer engagement, competitive differentiation, and demand response, according to Lux Research.
To maintain their edge in competitive markets, utilities are increasingly partnering with HEM technology companies such as Opower and EcoFactor to engage with residential consumers. However, telecom companies like Deutsche Telekom and even technology companies like Google are also getting into the HEM mix, threatening to shake up residential electricity markets.
“The last 12 months have seen a flurry of investment activity in the HEM space. California-based Nest Labs was recently acquired by Google for an astronomical $3.2 billion, and Control4 found sky-high valuation with its IPO last August,” pointed out Alex Herceg, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Master of the House: Cutting through the Hype in the Frenzied Home Energy Management Space.”
“These investments illustrate clear interest in bringing automation and the Internet of Things into the home, and the critical role it will play in energy markets,” he added.
Lux Research analysts evaluated the US, European and Asian markets for HEM suitability and analyzed the leading start-ups in the field. Among their findings:
The largest opportunity exists in the developed world. While housing stocks are growing most rapidly in developing countries like India and China, 90 per cent of the HEM opportunities lie in retrofits in existing homes, making rich markets like the U.S. and Western Europe most attractive.
Customer engagement is the broader goal. Utility revenues are huge – around $265 billion in Europe, $370 billion in the U.S., and $1 trillion in Asia. In order to stay competitive, utilities are spending less than 1 per cent of revenues on HEM to engage with customers via energy dashboards and in-home display panels.
Automated meters, rates and renewable energy mix are key. The success of HEM will depend on three key factors – automated metering infrastructure, electricity rate structures and renewable energy supply mix through 2020. Asia is ripe for HEM but lacks a renewable mix. European states are subject to directives to equip 80 per cent of consumers with intelligent metering systems by 2020.
The report, titled “Master of the House: Cutting through the Hype in the Frenzied Home Energy Management Space,” is part of the Lux Research Efficient Building Systems Intelligence service.
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