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Many of us in the utility industry have suggested consumer adoption of home automation is a ‘sleeping giant’.  One that could transform residential demand-side management.

Apple’s recent announcement of the HomePod, a device that serves as a hub for your HomeKit-enabled devices such as lights, garage doors, air conditioning and so on, only adds weight to the argument.

Recently Google has started to advertise Google Home in relation to home automation and claim to have over 70 home automation partner, and now we are seeing Apple and Microsoft get in on the act.  All of these behemoths are fast moving into the world of the connected home, and Utilities need to pay attention.

Alongside these developments, Belkin and NEST are looking to ensure their smart devices support Apple’s HomeKit, with Johnson Controls working with Microsoft.  With these ecosystems quietly maturing, Utilities need to be looking at how they can turn this into an opportunity and avoid missing out altogether.

Industry peers have long talked about being able to offer capped billing to energy consumers in the same way phone companies do as some sort of holy grail – this may not be too far around the corner.  Instead of throttling back data speeds if the consumer uses too much, under a fixed price agreement the Utility can simply adjust demand.

What about an electricity tariff that charged more at certain times of the day, depending on system demand?  The Utility could optimise the customer’s energy consumption to ensure the customer’s needs are being met at the lowest possible price, by shifting non-essential use to times of the day when the price is at its lowest.

If Utilities ignore these developments, others will enter this space.  Demand response aggregators, energy conservation solutions, product comparison companies, home automation services and many others will move to sell services off the back of the growing adoption of home automation.  The move to home automation and the services that are made available off the back of it will occur with or without the Utility.

How well is your Utility positioned for when this giant awakens?



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