Smart homes: cool technology but will it save you money?


    Creating the business case for energy efficiency

    Vienna is hosting Europe’s first look at the “smart home” of the future in September when hundreds of utility, telecom, appliance, high-tech and software experts gather in the Austrian capital for the Smart Homes 2010 conference and expo.  

    “We have the advanced technology to create a smart home and better control the energy we use”, says Anthony Pohl, director of Smart Homes 2010.  “The challenge now is to converge all the appliances and energy systems in our home to work together intelligently, creating a more energy-efficient system.  The other challenge is to make it cost effective for the consumer and profitable for the service providers – creating a business case.”  

    By 2013 over 20 million worldwide homes will be equipped with smart home systems, and by 2014 the global smart homes market is estimated to be valued at $13.4 billion.  Growing at a rate of 16.5% between 2009 and 2014, this multi-billion dollar market is accelerating fast.

    Smart homes:  creating a business case
    The Pecan Street Project in Austin, Texas is a community-wide collaboration to fully reinvent the energy delivery system and probably the biggest potential smart home deployment in the world.  Karl Popham is the CIO of Austin Energy and a headline speaker at Smart Homes 2010:  “Smart homes are the next step in the natural evolution of the electric grid to provide consumers with more choices in regards to their personal energy needs.  This includes opportunities to save money, self-generation, support of plug-in vehicles, increased renewable energy, and conservation-based rate options.”
    However, says Smart Homes 2010’s Anthony Pohl, creating a business case for sophisticated smart home solutions not only presents the biggest hurdle, but also the biggest opportunity:  “with smart homes, we talk about value added services, and look at the connectivity of the system that is deployed and consider how this can be used to extract additional revenue from customers.”  

    He continues:  “a lot has also been said about the smart home of the future; adding security systems, E-healthcare services, selling home energy management as a consultancy service, and so on.  Telecoms are great at realising business cases, and creating new customer centric offerings and ‘value added services’ to drive revenue.  Utilities on the other hand, really lack the insights, customer centric focus and the visions to think in this way.”

    Cool technology!
    Smart Homes 2010 will showcase some of the latest technology used in smart homes:

    • The Cisco Home Energy Management Solution, a bundled LCD screen solution that will include services for keeping tabs on energy consumption and pricing information. In theory, this helps keeping tabs on demand.
    • Intel’s Intelligent Home Energy Management runs on their Atom processors and aims to be a central and straightforward way to figure out ways to reduce utility bills, as well as also conveniently having integrated apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Pandora.
    • Panasonic recently announced a collaboration with SEAS-NVE, Denmark’s largest consumer-owned energy company, to start pilots of its Lifinity Home Energy Management System (HEMS) to intelligently manage the energy consumption of appliances, lighting and heating.

    Smart Homes 2010 will also feature future visions from utilities including EnBW, ENEL, EDF and from telecoms including Telefonica, Vodafone, Belgacom, Orange and Telecom Italia, and appliance manufacturers including Bosch, Indesit and Electrolux.

    Some of the “smart” speakers who will be there:

    • “A ‘smart home’ is a ‘connected home’, where technology and communications combine to provide the customer with the opportunity to utilise advanced systems and applications to transform their lifestyle, and deliver sustainable solutions to support the intelligent building.”  – Ashley Pocock, Head of Industry, Regulation and External Affairs – Smart Metering, EDF Energy
    • “The smart home market has an unprecedented opportunity to finally become a reality in all our homes…  It gives the telco sector a remarkable market opportunity by helping the utilities to surpass the challenges on reaching the users easily through IT and communication services and by making the actual grids smart!’  –  Pierre Y. Plaza Tron, Division Director – Digital Home, Telefonica, Spain
    • “The next industrial revolution will be the advent of the Internet Of Things, where consumers will get access to all kinds of information about all kinds of devices and, ultimately, things. The first stage of this will be the home, driven by energy usage monitoring and controlling. This is a terrific opportunity for carriers to provide their customers a way to enhance their digital life, together with relevant partners that will provide specialized services.”  –  Hugues Severac, Director, Machine-to-Machine Strategy, Orange Group

    Event website:  
    Co-located event:  Metering Europe
    Event dates and location:  22-24 September 2010 – Reed Messe, Vienna

    For more information, interviews and accreditation:
    Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
    Tel.  +27 21 700 3558
    Fax.  +27 21 700 3501
    Mobile:  +27 82 562 7844