North America — (METERING.COM) — September 9, 2008 – Honeywell today introduced a ZigBee®-enabled version of UtilityPRO™, a touchscreen programmable thermostat designed for utility-sponsored demand response programs. The thermostat now includes two-way communications via a ZigBee networking module, enabling utilities to tap into the smart grid and provide customers with more insight into their energy use.
"We’ve built on the success of the original UtilityPRO, making the thermostat more effective for both utilities and their customers," said Kevin McDonough, general manager of Honeywell Utility Solutions. "By adding ZigBee functionality, we’re now creating a tighter link between the utility and homeowner, helping deliver on the promise of the smart grid."
The new version of UtilityPRO communicates with smart meters and networks using ZigBee, an open wireless networking standard. This allows utilities to further leverage their investment in the smart grid versus having to establish third-party paging networks, which are traditionally used for demand response programs. It also provides the ability to send information directly to and receive information from the thermostat.
As a result, utilities can create more streamlined and effective demand response programs. And they help change consumer behavior by giving customers the information to make informed decisions on when and how they use energy.
Two-way communication gives utilities the ability to gather detailed performance metrics, for example, so they can analyze the success of a demand response event and make any necessary changes to help achieve load-reduction goals. This ultimately provides better peak energy control, which can help utilities stabilize prices, reduce the need for additional power plants, and avoid disruptive brownouts and blackouts.
In addition, by tying into the smart grid, UtilityPRO can pull data from the meter and provide billing information to homeowners, including current rates, month-to-date charges and year-over-year usage comparisons. "Simply having a smart network doesn’t necessarily correlate to smart energy management," McDonough said. "By pushing relevant information to customers through UtilityPRO, utilities can empower customers to become more engaged, active participants in managing the energy grid."
The ZigBee module is the latest addition to UtilityPRO, which combines advanced demand response capabilities with Honeywell’s best-selling programmable thermostat.
With UtilityPRO, homeowners get a thermostat that is simple to use and effective. Its intuitive logic and menu-driven programming help maximize energy savings while maintaining comfort. The thermostat also offers top-of-the-line features like touchscreen interaction and a large, easy-to-read backlit display.
From a utility’s perspective, UtilityPRO provides a load control device that has widespread consumer appeal, increasing demand response participation. It also helps improve customer service by allowing utilities to communicate directly with customers through customized text messages ? an industry first. Specifically, utilities can send information like weather forecasts and updates on other conservation programs.
Utilities using Honeywell UtilityPRO to power their demand response programs include Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, Kansas City Power & Light and CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas.
Pilot programs for the ZigBee-enabled thermostat are currently in development.