Home energy management has been a popular topic for tech and home goods media for several years now. But despite all of the discussion surrounding these products and services, consumers have remained lukewarm when it comes to actually using them.
What is home energy management and why hasn't it gained traction yet? Energy Lens, a software provider in the HEM space, defines it as "the process of monitoring, controlling and conserving energy in a building or organization." In a home, this would mean using products like smart thermostats and appliances, advanced meters and others that could be controlled and monitored from a central console. In theory, this would give homeowners a data-driven way to take more control over their energy usage.
But, for the most part, it hasn't really been this way in practice. According to a report from Utility Dive, the biggest obstacle HEM product manufacturers and retailers have had is in getting consumers to change their habits and routines to accommodate their products with anything more than moderate interest. This is what has always puzzled industry watchers: If the benefits of HEM products are so clear, why are consumers so resistant to actually using them?
Why the HEM market may finally be ready to take off Perhaps it's not the products themselves, but the way in which they're sold. According to a blog post from research firm Manifest Mind, most HEM devices are sold individually, leaving the consumer to buy it and figure out how it fits into their home's existing scheme of devices.
The research firm wrote that rather than relying on consumers to adopt new gadgets and habits one-by-one, HEM manufacturers should bundle them in with products that consumers are already using or looking to buy, such as home security, entertainment and other upgrades and retrofits. Given how sticky consumer psychology is in regard to entrenched habits and lifestyles, manufacturers will likely have to adjust how they make and package their products if they want to increase adoption.
"The real opportunity here, from a conservation perspective, an efficiency perspective, and a demand response perspective, is to basically allow us to live like we always lived, but to provide energy management services as part of engaging what we already do," Carol Stimmel, founder of Manifest Mind, told Utility Dive.
"The consumer HEM market is projected to reach a total size of $2.2 billion by 2022."
How one ESCO/REP is already adding HEM to its list of services One of the key findings of the Manifest Mind study is that the consumer HEM market is projected to reach a total size of $2.2 billion by 2022. Between 2015-2022, the market is slated to gain a cumulative total of $15 billion in total size. For ESCOs/REPs who are looking to expand their offerings, this could be a massive opportunity to add a strong revenue stream.
One of the first movers in this comprehensive HEM solution space is Clearview Energy, a supplier with a presence in every deregulated state. In a recent press release, the company announced the addition of a new service offering called Clearview Home Safety and Automation, an alarm, energy management, and home automation suite.
"We decided to put together the best of the best as our first offering into the home energy management and home automation services. Most of the home automation packages in the market, including the Nest systems are still very DIY, and not very approachable. Clearview's philosophy is to get home automation and energy management into the home without much effort on the customers' part, so that the average family can experience greater security, greater comfort, greater energy savings, and maybe just a little bit of futuristic fun along the way," Peter Jucha, VP of the company, said in the press release.
Clearview's approach looks to be a roadmap for other ESCOs/REPs who want to gain a share of this growing market: By making HEM systems as easy as possible to install and use, and by tying them into other more familiar products, homeowners are much more likely to buy in and use them.
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