One of the more popular spots this week at NRECA TechAdvantage exhibit floor was the “Utility Connected Home,” a demonstration of how an increasing list of internet-connected devices connect consumers in the home with their electric providers. NRTC offers its members several forms of broadband and smart grid services, such as AMI and demand response. It contributed six of the 29 technologies on display at the demonstration.
“We’re not really talking about technology, we’re talking about the relationship between the home and the utility,” said Brian Sloboda, NRECA’s director, Consumer Solutions, during a TechAdvantage session. “In a practical sense, [all devices] become like a Nest thermostat. Nest learns how you live and when you are home. Apply the same concept to your other appliances.”
Nest thermostats and home demand management are among the services NRTC offers its members. In fact, a Nest thermostat was one of the devices NRTC contributed to the demo. Others included:
- An Itron smart meter, with AMI technology allowing electric utilities to collect data throughout the grid, even down to the household level. Some technologies allow consumers to monitor AMI data and control the amount of energy they use.
- A Nest-developed smoke detector that will detect smoke, fire or carbon monoxide build up and send an alert to the user’s smart phone.
- A security camera operating with the “Nest Aware” service that can record images throughout the home, 24/7.
- Google Smart Wi-Fi devices that allow devices in every room to communicate with each other and connect the consumer.
- And, NRTC contributed broadband fiber and wireless approaches to feed home networks.
Other contributors to the display offered devices ranging from security systems (doorbell camera, remote lighting controls, door/window sensors, smart door locks) to electric vehicle charging stations.
“We all have to admit, if you ask your members, ‘Do you care about electricity?’ they care that it’s on,” Sloboda said. By embracing the connected home, utilities have an opportunity to reach a higher level of consumer engagement, he said.