nPower, one of the United Kingdoms largest energy companies, has teamed up with D-Link and other leading smart home technology companies to test an integrated autonomous home solution. However this leads to more questions than answers, as the 300 home trial happening in the Birmingham region of the UK appears to be a fact finding mission, aiming to help energy companies like nPower to better understand how consumers are using smart heating systems in order to reduce energy bills.
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, following hot on the footsteps of the Mobile World Congress in Spain last March, served to highlight that technology that connects the home into one big ‘smart’ interconnected network is the breakout theme in the consumer tech space during 2016. The space has been headlined by Samsung, naturally – who are always all over all types of technology, as well as well Amazon. However in the past two days we have heard about the conjoined efforts of two major telecommunications companies who joined forces to bring out an offering in this space and now the emergence of a massive energy company who are also looking at bringing solutions to market in 2016. In short, this is not a trend which is going anywhere and the energy companies know it.
This lies in testament to that the fact that technology touches all elements of the home. The growing role played by smartphones in our lives has naturally placed them at the heart of this home front revolution. Our phones now power our lives, so its only natural that they will, and have, grown to power our homes too. This explains why the telecoms players, 02 and AT&T referenced above are in the space. The emergence of nPower is testament to the role that smart tech is playing on our energy consumption though.
The space has been dominated by companies like Nest, who are now into their third generation and are increasingly seen as being ‘worth it’ by consumers. Nest saves you money by making your energy usage smarter. It learns your behaviour to heat your house to your taste, as well as to understand which rooms are naturally cooler or warmer to better distribute energy expenditure and to lessen waste. Its really cool kit and its saving the consumer money. However, the money it saves for you and me is taken off of the likes of nPower’s bottom line – and therefore becomes a contradiction.
So as nPower invest in the whole concept of ‘connected living’ and partner with D-Link, Nest Labs, Yale and others, combining their collective strengths in heating, security, energy and wireless networking solutions to sit behind an nPower app, it does leave open questions. Does the nPower solution have consumers best interests at heart.
nPower will trial their solution over a six month period with 300 homes in the Midlands (UK). Its basically a fact finder for nPower to see what the real story is. Essentially it has darker intentions for consumers, and shows that the energy companies are taking smart home tech seriously, and are concerned.
Clearly smart heating technology has been pitched as a force for good. It saves on wastage which directly correlates into cheaper energy bills. Its also good for the environment, with the added ‘cool factor’ afforded by being cutting edge in its nature. Yet clearly the energy companies, many of whom who are more than happy to see you wasting your money by heating your home inefficiently and by leaving lights on all day, are going to want some recourse. This tech is hard to argue with but no major company sits there and enjoys seeing its profit margin being eroded.
Is this the start of the energy companies taking this space seriously and beginning to ‘attack’ smart heating systems and home tech in general? What’s your view? Share your views in the comments below