What’s the big deal with smart (energy) homes?

Did you ever watch the Jetsons? What about Back to the Future 2 (where the “future” was 2015, by the way)? Maybe you entered the new millennium expecting, in no time, to live in a home with fingerprint key access, voice commands preparing dinner, and perhaps even a robotic friend greeting you at the end of a long day?

Well, some of us may now own a robotic vacuum (guilty as charged), or use our fingerprint to unlock a smart phone, or maybe even have a voice command speaker set up in our home, but few if any of us would consider our homes to be truly “smart.”


A New Kind Of Home

At the intersection of the smart home and energy efficiency emerges what we’re calling the smart energy home. As described in NEEP’s newest report, The Smart Energy Home: Strategies to Transform the Region, a smart energy home is not just outfitted with internet-enabled gadgets galore, but has connected and energy-optimizing components of some of the major energy users in a home: water heating, HVAC, and plug loads. This is a critical distinction to make, as it narrows the focus of how efficiency can interact in the world of the Internet of Things. By focusing on smart products that impact major residential energy uses, we are able to develop and execute manageable strategies.

NEEP is confident that the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic can work together to transform the home energy management market and work to have many smart energy homes throughout the region. These homes would not only be efficient, but would also optimize distributed energy resources and integration with the grid. In fact, NEEP is putting forward the following audacious regional goal:


Smart Energy Homes Report October 2016 - Regional 2030 Goals


Don’t worry, we aren’t just proposing that goal, we’re also here to help the region reach it. Our report includes eight here-and-now strategies for regional stakeholders to adopt in order to begin making progress towards this goal. Not only that, but NEEP is here to help shepherd the process, and is actively seeking project funding to help move some of these strategies along.

In addition to reading the report (or at least just the executive summary), we invite you to join us at a public webinar on Friday, 10/28 at 1pm EST to hear more about NEEP’s findings and strategies to advance the smart energy home.


Opportunities For Impact

So, as you work to figure out your own place or interest in the smart energy home, remember that as a society, we’re a bit behind Hollywood’s timeline of technological advancement. Some of the most important smart energy opportunities may be boring compared to a gadget-filled smart home, but that’s okay. The boring markets rarely transform on their own, and NEEP is working to create opportunities for impact. It takes a healthy dose of creativity and resourcefulness to force ahead in this uncharted territory, but as Doc Brown, everyone’s favorite inventor from Back to the Future, says, “where we’re going, we don’t need roads."


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