Honeywell and Opower are currently testing the platform in a trial with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), one of the largest utilities in the U.S., serving customers in northern and central California. As part of the trial, Honeywell and Opower are recruiting participants and installing more than 500 free thermostats to validate energy savings.
The goal is to gauge customer acceptance of and experience with the technology. The program is also intended to confirm the savings that are realistic for customers in PG&E's diverse service area against the hypothesis that the thermostat and app will help save up to 5 percent of whole-house electricity and gas use. The trial will conclude in the first quarter of 2014, but PG&E has garnered initial findings, which were published in a recent report. So far, customers find the technology accessible and intuitive, and use it to actively manage comfort and consumption.
The Energy Management Platform is the initial output of Honeywell and Opower's development efforts, which couple Honeywell's expertise and innovation in designing simple-to-use smart home controls with Opower's leading data analytics and engagement. The platform creates an end-to-end connection between the utility and consumer. And combined with Honeywell's experience in the design, marketing and delivery of demand response and energy efficiency programs, the technology can provide new levels of simplicity and value for utilities.
"As separate efforts, demand response and efficiency programs can offer significant benefits to utilities and customers, but it's typically been hard to measure and verify their effectiveness," said Alex Kinnier, senior vice president of Product Management at Opower. "By combining these efforts and providing a way to help utilities generate real, measurable savings, we've created a new, more cost-effective and capable model.""Program participation can't be a one-way proposition," said Jeremy Eaton, vice president and general manager of Honeywell Smart Grid Solutions. "To maximize enrollment, utilities must provide real, tangible benefits to consumers. We're bridging the gap by providing mobility, relatable energy information, precise control and other features customers want so utilities can reach deeper levels of connectivity and participation." Along with the convenience of the app, the platform encourages efficiency by walking users through a simple questionnaire that automatically creates a setback schedule. As a result, all thermostats are fully programmed upon installation and can drive energy savings, reducing air-conditioning use up to 20 percent and heating up to 15 percent.