According to a recent study by Ovum, a global business and technology research and analysis firm, energy management and monitoring is expected to grow to a $1.8 billion dollar consumer market by 2015 with more than an estimated 200 million smart meters (used to allow many energy monitoring systems to be functional) being installed over the next decade.
This market is being flooded by major players such as Microsoft, Google, Intel, AT&T and Apple and is being directly marketed to the masses, resulting in a fairly educated consumer base. It is imperative that both builders and electronic systems contractors (ESCs) take advantage of this growing field to maximize revenue and remain relevant to clients.
As Gordon van Zuiden, ESC, and founder/president of CyberManor illustrates, “The purpose of an energy monitoring system is much like that of the dashboard on a Toyota Prius. This smart car alerts the driver of their gas consumption on a real time basis. Home energy monitors mirror this ability by detailing the energy consumption of a home at any given time. It can also give consumers feedback immediately about the cost of usage.”
According to van Zuiden, when utilized in conjunction with a home control system, consumers are simultaneously informed about which appliances and lights could be turned off to lower the consumption and reflected cost savings. The more systems that are tied in (e.g., pool pumps, refrigerators, lighting control, HVAC), the more a consumer can understand and alter their home’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.
John Wesley Miller, chairman of the John Wesley Miller Companies concurs. “Consumers are constantly inundated with information about energy savings, but it is hard to quantify that information without knowing where the energy is being spent in a home. With an energy monitor, consumers are given real-time feedback and are able to make necessary changes based on that information.”
Dozens of entry points exist in this arena, beginning with low-cost devices (average $250) that mount on electrical panels and provide usage displays via an adapter on any browser. Through lode profiling, these simple devices can determine the energy use of singular appliances such as a refrigerator or air conditioner.
On the higher end, total home automation systems encompassing lighting control to HVAC systems, can cost thousands of dollars to install, but result in the highest amount of energy savings and can provide detailed dashboard readouts regarding the energy consumption attributed to individual appliances and areas in the home. It is important to note that wireless energy management and monitoring solutions and products are available for retrofit into existing homes, providing an even larger cross section of the nation to market.
To drive consumers’ adoption of energy management and monitoring technology, the Obama administration has instituted a multi-billion dollar smart- grid grant program rolled out where about one million consumers will get in-home displays from utilities looking to lower consumers' energy consumption in smart-grid programs. While the consumer awareness is certainly there, it is important for builders and ESCs alike to be educated about the latest available products to further promote their usefulness.
CEDIA, through its Sustainable Lifestyles Action Team, identifies current and emerging business opportunities that foster prosperity while reducing the environmental impact of residential electronics. As energy monitoring and energy management systems fall into this category, this team is working to standardize the design and installation of these electronics.
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