Energy Management comes home

This week, the US Government announced the Green Button Initiative with the hopes that millions of home owners will be able to monitor and control their home utility bills through the web and smartphone apps.  The New York Times wrote a strong blog post on it today (you can see it here)This is definitely not another “big brother” initiative by the White House; this is a plan that will encourage and enable the private sector to build tools to support this government program.  Three of California’s largest utilties joined the Initiative to encourage adoption of a standard by which Utilities will home utility bill information can be viewed and downloaded directly from the Utility website.

It’s a very interesting strategy put forth from the White House.  Encourage the big utilties to share information in a consistent manner, then step out of the way and watch the private sector fill in the gaps.  More importantly, will home owners care enough to find this information on their Utility’s website, or will they just think it’s noise that needs to be drowned out?  Our hope is that people will care, but our belief is that they will only care if it makes financial sense to care.

Energent is deploying Home Energy Management Systems across the province with the goal to reduce electricity consumption and increase awareness.  The data isn’t in yet as to the impact on electricity reduction, but our research tells us that will coincide with the level of engagement.  So, what does this mean?  Energent believes that we have to engage the end consumer and make energy relevant to them.  To do this it must be easy to collect the data, interesting to read, and will save them enough money that it matters.

Creating a standardized platform to allow users to easily access and review this information is a great first step.  It is now up to the Utilities and the private sector to create compelling reasons and great products to drive this Home Energy Management business model.  Any business models that are based solely on government subsidies are at best mediocre, and at worst doomed.  Here’s hoping we can all do our part in Canada and the United States to build this market into a meaningful growth opportunity, not one of just speculation and government handouts.

Thanks for reading.