January 29, 2013 - Honeywell and Opower introduced new technology that aims to help utilities attract more homeowners to voluntary programs that curb the demand for electricity, and help create “a stable and effective energy grid without new power plants”.
By Anthony Capkun
The Energy Management Platform drives program participation by giving homeowners the latest tools to easily balance comfort, convenience and cost, say the partners. It also merges demand response (DR) and energy efficiency programs for utilities to streamline deployment and management. This is the first technology to provide utilities with both auditable peak and permanent load reduction, says Honeywell.
“As separate efforts, demand response and efficiency programs can offer significant benefits to utilities and customers, but it’s typically been hard to measure and verify their effectiveness,” said Alex Kinnier, senior vice president of product management at Opower. “By combining these efforts and providing a way to help utilities generate real, measurable savings, we’ve created a new, more cost-effective and capable model.”
The platform combines Honeywell’s Wi-Fi thermostat and Akuacom utility management software with Opower’s interactive, cloud-based application to give homeowners the ability to view and adjust energy use from anywhere via smartphone or web. The app offers tips and coaching to help increase efficiency and deliver long-term savings.
Honeywell and Opower are currently testing the platform in a trial with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E); as part of the trial, Honeywell and Opower are recruiting participants and installing more than 500 free thermostats to validate energy savings. The goal is to gauge customer acceptance of and experience with the technology. The program is also intended to confirm the savings that are realistic for customers in PG&E’s service area.
“Program participation can’t be a one-way proposition,” said Jeremy Eaton, vice-president and general manager of Honeywell Smart Grid Solutions. “To maximize enrollment, utilities must provide real, tangible benefits to consumers. We’re bridging the gap by providing mobility, relatable energy information, precise control and other features customers want so utilities can reach deeper levels of connectivity and participation.”
Honeywell says the technology is engineered to accommodate almost all residential heating and cooling systems, and takes advantage of available Wi-Fi networks. More than 60% of U.S. homes have Wi-Fi connectivity, and many more have access to broadband networks, says Honeywell, adding that Wi-Fi is even more prevalent in Canada, where the platform is also available.