Energy Hub just announced that their in-home energy management system is available direct to consumers – not just through utilities. I’m intrigued to read about what’s happening at Energy Hub for a few reasons:
- It’s low cost
- It has tech appeal
- They talk about Demand Response
For just over $300, you can get Energy Hub’s starter kit – this is an interesting price point for those early adopters interested in energy and technology. Whether or not they actually deliver on their goal of saving consumers who use their product 20% (which is a pretty lofty goal), this is a price point where I can imagine early adopters spending the money just to see their energy usage real time and check out the latest technology. This will help Energy Hub in the early days, but beware the chasm between early adopters and mainstream adopters – they are motivated by different things!
With a sleek home energy management hub and an iphone/android app to go with it, there’s a certain cool factor and tech appeal built-in that will appeal to the tech-saavy consumer. Energy, and clean tech in particular, is becoming a hot topic, and by capitalizing on the buzz with a tool that looks cool, they are taking advantage of the trend.
While I strongly believe the real business potential is in targeting commercial & industrial companies – the biggest users of energy – in a scalable way (hence I spent my summer internship at EnerNOC), we have all seen the power a collection of consumers can have when enabled with technology. I am curious to learn more about Energy Hub’s plans for this space. Both commercially and for the smartgrid in general, I’m curious to see if they can put tools in the hands of consumers and utilities and have the vision to make energy management a more dynamic part of our everyday lives.
However, Energy Hub faces a few serious challenges – particularly their dependence on the smartgrid roll-out and a lack of track record.
The smartgrid roll-out is slow and not uniformly being implemented across utilities–getting smart meters into residential homes across the US is going to take many years to come. While Energy Hub’s devices don’t necessarily need smart meters to work, that’s definitely where consumers realize the tool’s full value. At the moment at least, early adopters with smart meters already installed in their homes is a relatively small customer base to work with.
Second, the real driver of consumer-targeted programs to reduce energy usage is data. The most well-known example in this area is Opower, and the power behind Opower is the massive amounts of data they have managed to collect from their consumers. With that data, they are able to demonstrate the impact of their programs – both for consumers and utilities. That’s the barrier to entry for the best smartgrid companies now. Part of Energy Hub’s future success will be their ability to collect data from their existing and new customers and demonstrate the impact their tool has on consumers and utilities’ energy saving goals.