July 11, 2011
| by Steven Castle
It’s a baking hot day. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some automated control over your air conditioner, so you don’t run up a hefty bill to cool your home while you’re stuck at work?
Alarm.com says it has the answer.
The company’s emPower security and energy management system now has an “Extreme Temps” feature that relies on weather information to turn up or down your thermostat and automatically save you energy and money.
EmPower lets consumers automate and control their lights, locks and thermostats remotely from a web-enabled computer or cell phone. Since its release a year ago, Alarm.com has continued to enhance emPower with new offerings including its “rules engine” that enables automation rules to be created through simple web and mobile user interfaces.
With Extreme Temps, customers can easily turn on a rule that will automatically set the target temperature of their thermostats based on the forecasted weather in the area. For hot days, users choose an outdoor temperature threshold between 80 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If the local weather forecast predicts temperatures exceeding the customer’s selected threshold, Alarm.com will automatically increase their thermostat setting by one to nine degrees, enabling customers to save money and reduce their energy consumption on days when their air conditioning system is likely to consume a lot of energy. On cold days, the feature works similarly, with a temperature threshold range from -20 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Customers can receive email and text notifications letting them know when Extreme Temps are activated, and can opt out at any time by manually adjusting their thermostat.
Extreme Temps is now available through their Alarm.com dealers and is a free upgrade to emPower Thermostat users.
“The platform we’ve developed can also help utilities that operate demand response programs better manage demand for energy during peak usage times,” says Alison Slavin, Alarm.com Vice President of Product Management.
Demand response programs award utility customers with rate discounts if they agree to have the utility automatically turn down or turn off appliances like air conditioners during peak load periods, so more expensive power will not have to be purchased. This is generally done through two-way communicating smart meters connected to the appliances. Many demand response programs are still in trials or pilot programs to test the systems and consumer appeal.
Correction: A reference to emPower as a do-it-yourself product was removed on 7-12-11. “The best way to describe Alarm.com is a technology provider that sells exclusively through the dealer channel. We do have some DIY dealers who resell our product as well as professional install dealers,” says Brian Lustig of Alarm.com.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates