Cisco is getting into the home energy management business. The company announced its Home Energy Management Solution, featuring a countertop touchscreen called the Home Energy Controller (CGH-100), which Cisco plans to make available through utilities rolling out smart grid services.
The Home Energy Controller will provide consumers with information on their energy usage by time of day. The controller can be connected to a two-way smart meter, smart appliances, programmable thermostats and home networks via WiFi, Ethernet, or ZigBee, to deliver energy usage data and other information. It uses ZigBee’s Smart Energy Profile to communicate with other devices on a home network.
Usage patterns and recommendations will be delivered from Cisco’s Energy Management Services. According to Cisco, by measuring energy, the system can also identify appliances or other home products that may require maintenance or replacement, such as old refrigerators that are using a lot of electricity.
“We’re giving consumers a level of information they haven’t had before, and that will make a difference in how they live in the home,” says Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group.
The home energy monitoring and maintenance field is becoming crowded, with efforts also from Intel, Microsoft, Google, Powerhouse Dynamics, Control4, The Energy Detective and others vying for a share of a market not yet fully developed. Security giant ADT, phone giant Verizon and cable company Comcast are also looking to sell home energy management products and services.
Consumers are just starting to become aware of their home energy use and that they can better control it, and few are familiar with smart meter and smart grid services.
Because of this, Cisco believes the systems consumers use need to be very simple to use and intuitive.
“Energy management should be one of many applications in the home,” adds Larry O’Connell, consumer energy product manager of Cisco’s Prosumer Business Unit. “If it’s part of home security or something else, that’s more compelling to consumers.”
Ultimate goal is to provide consumers something that needs to provide back-of-mind simplicity, but really, back-pocket rewards,” in terns of energy savings, says Gianna Manes, senior vice president and chief customer officer at utility Duke Energy, which is providing Cisco Home Energy Management Solution to 100 customers in a pilot program in North Carolina and Ohio.
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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