The rotation of technology trends throughout the past few years has truly moved at a dizzying pace. Topics like mobile connectivity, Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks, sustainability, cloud-based computing ... you name it and it’s probably had a turn at some point as the most talked-about subject in the tech world. You could argue, though, that one topic in particular has attracted the most attention above all others: energy management.
No matter the industry or the application, the capability to save energy and drive down costs usually finds a way to creep into the conversation, and rightly so. In the era of sustainable/green/clean technology, energy conservation continues to be one of the chief factors consumers and organizations consider when evaluating the actual size of their “environmental footprint.”
Similar to many other industries, energy management in physical security continues to gain traction as a hot topic, and not just for its green and sustainable aspects and abilities to help consumers and organizations save money. The prospect of selling energy management solutions alongside security applications opens recurring monthly revenue (RMR) streams for installing security contractors on the hunt to differentiate and diversify their businesses.
Not all dealers and integrators have been quick to embrace this latest trend. Adding a new, nonsecurity element to a portfolio may seem like undertaking a whole other occupation. Hence, the prospect of needing to become well-versed in the energy field isn’t appealing to every professional whose primary livelihood has been designing and installing physical security systems. It’s one thing to sell protection and peace of mind; it’s another to sell energy savings to a home or business.
Expanding a portfolio to include energy management solutions may not be as complex and scary as some might think. With the right preparation and product knowledge, traditional-minded dealers and integrators can leverage their physical security savvy to successfully enter this promising market niche.
3 Steps to Get Started
Perhaps the biggest misconception about selling energy management for the traditional security installer is believing it necessary to become an “energy expert” before sitting down with a customer. While a solid knowledge base is certainly required, it’s important to realize that many customers often already know what home systems they want to control and measure.
Moreover, while it can be challenging for some security dealers to pick up energy/home/building management experience, many professionals in those fields are committed to partnering with security dealers to expand their own portfolios. This translates into great opportunities for natural partnerships.
The burgeoning market for energy management will be a key driver in facilitating these partnerships as well as attracting new providers. Consider recent research by Dallas-based Parks Associates that predicts as many as 13% of American homes will be equipped with an energy management network by 2015. The firm forecasts lighting controls, programmable thermostats and self-monitoring systems will each exceed $1 billion in U.S. revenues by 2015. Additionally, Parks reported in 2011 that one-third of consumers in broadband households find remote control of lights, appliances and thermostats via Web-enabled devices “very appealing.”
So how does a dealer or integrator that wants to enter this space get started? Becoming proficient in selling energy management requires dealers to 1) research and learn about the different types of metering devices on the market; 2) build upon their knowledge of IT networks to learn about the various open protocols used by metering and sub-metering devices; and 3) overcome any apprehension of speaking directly with energy professionals.
Understanding Wireless Protocols
Two key areas where security technology can help improve energy efficiency are lighting systems, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). This type of integration demands different approaches and requirements for residential and commercial environments. In a residential setting, the focus is on achieving the highest level of comfort at the lowest price. In the commercial market, the focus is return on investment or ROI (see sidebar). Each situation presents its own unique factors to consider.
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