Smart Energy Summit Pinpoints Strategies to Engage Consumers in Smart Home Markets

The annual conference hosted by Park Associates provided key insights from executives from energy providers, device manufacturers and technology companies.

AUSTIN, Texas – Parks Associates hosted its sixth annual Smart Energy Summit here this week with industry analysts and executives addressing new strategies to accelerate innovation and capture the business potential in energy markets.

Two-thirds of broadband household in the United States are willing to pay for a smart energy management service, but awareness remains low for smart home products and solutions and where to purchase them, according to the research firm.

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The conference, held Feb. 16-18, offered key insights from executives from energy providers, device manufacturers, and technology companies in the smart home and energy management markets. Parks Associates notes that while nearly 60% of U.S. broadband household replaced at least one light bulb in the home with a more efficient CFL or LED bulb over the last 12 months, environmental benefits and even cost savings will not be sufficient benefits to drive broad adoption of smart home solutions.

“Interest in smart energy solutions is strong, but in drilling down, no single offering is driving demand,” said Tom Kerber, director, research, home controls & energy, Parks Associates. “Consumer motivations and value perceptions are diverse, and continued efforts to add value to smart home services and energy efficiency programs will help expand the market and move consumers beyond single products. Among current smart product owners, 27% bought their first device as part of a kit, so it will be key to offer multiple value propositions while ensuring interoperability.”

Smart Energy Summit keynotes included representatives from NRG Energy and SunPower Corp. In a special forum, executives with ecobee and SmartThings discussed new business models in the smart home and energy markets and emerging strategies to engage consumers.

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“The consumer value proposition for smart home products and services is changing,” said Stuart Lombard, president and CEO, ecobee. “For example, the connected thermostat has a simple but meaningful value proposition that customers love. Once customers experience that value, they start looking for the next connected device to make their lives simpler and better. The market is evolving to reach that next step, moving beyond the initial value proposition to the next extension of smart home technology.”

Consumers do not want to think of smart home solutions from a platform perspective, said Dan Lieberman, head of research and standards, SmartThings. He said SmartThings’ best selling products are kits that bundle devices to offer a value proposition.

“What we have found is that consumers, after buying a kit, will double the number of their devices over the first 30 days,” Lieberman said. “Once they go in to solve one goal, they recognize there are other things they can do with this technology and these devices.”

Interest in the connected home has been rapidly increasing, yet there are a few challenges that must be overcome in order to make the smart home a reality, according Sujata Neidig, vice president of marketing, Thread Group.

“A simple and reliable network must be put in place that will allow multiple devices to easily connect and work together seamlessly. A low-power solution is also crucial, and it is imperative that connected home products incorporate adequate and appropriate security measures to make sure that private data is protected,” Neidig said.

Jacob Nielson, business development leader, Emerson, told the audience the smart home sector is still in its infancy, and as more and more homeowners demand better control over their home environment, this will naturally lead to opportunities for savings.

“Often people think that we have to trade comfort and preferences for efficiency, but the truth is they tend to go hand in hand,” he said.

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