February 19, 2009
| by Steven Castle
Home energy management will increase significantly over the next four years, and the number of U.S. households with a smart meter will grow to over six million by 2012, according to research firm Parks Associates.
“Over one million smart meters have been deployed in the U.S.,” said Bill Ablondi, Parks’ director of Home Systems Research. “Utilities see the benefit of upgrading the grid, and consumers are growing more conscious of their energy consumption. Add in incentives from the government, and you have three strong drivers that will boost deployment and innovation in this market.”
The projection of 6 million smart meters is far less than the 40 million cited by Google as a market for the search titan’s prototype PowerMeter. “I interviewed a number of utilities deploying smart meters, smart meter firms and firms providing software to utilities. All agreed at least in general with the forecast of some 6 million smart meters (not AMR meters) deployed by 2012,” Ablondi responded via email. “There are announced plans to deploy at least 25 to 30 [million] smart meters. However, some like the CenterPoint deployment in Houston, will only begin next month. Also, many of the meters will go into commercial accounts where the payback is bigger. Do the math: 30M times $200 to $300 each, installed ... $6B to $9B. Most of this will not be covered by the $11 billion in [stimulus spending for a smart grid].”
Parks Associates reports that more than half of U.S. households are taking steps to conserve energy, the impact of which has broad implications for everyone from appliance end electronics manufacturers to venture capitalists. Already, a strong majority of U.S. builders recognize energy-efficient amenities as the most positive influencers in selling a home, Parks says.
“The Obama administration has made the development of energy-efficient technologies and alternative fuels a priority,” Ablondi said. “There will be opportunities for manufacturers in smart appliances, utilities investing in Smart Grid technologies, and start-ups developing innovative energy solutions.”
The Parks Associates’ project, “Residential Energy Management: Opportunities for Digital Systems and Services,” analyzes the market, current and future deployments, and consumer preferences. Due to be released in third quarter, it includes an online survey of 1,500 U.S. households regarding their use and awareness of smart meters.
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