Networking company Cisco got into the home energy management sector this week as it unveiled a new in-home energy management device along with connected services that, when used in conjunction with utilities, “help consumers securely and reliably gain insight into, and easier control over, their energy use.” It also wasted no time in immediately finding a large utility partner to field trial this with, as Duke Energy in North Carolina and Ohio has stepped up to test the first generation technology with its customer base.
Cisco’s Home Energy Management Solution, as the company calls it, is a facet of the smart grid that will connect consumers and their utilities “to enable an end-to-end, open standards-based, communications platform that supports new models of energy management.” The heart of the platform – the Home Energy Controller – is a countertop touchscreen display that will let consumers “view and control information on thermostats, intelligent sockets and power strips, and smart appliances such as refrigerators and water heaters.” The other major component – software hosted by your utility – will allow them to communicate with your touchscreen display to provide home owners with more detailed energy control and management, down to the appliance level. It, in theory, will allow you and your utility to “coordinate on new pricing and demand-side management services, enabling home automation for energy management.”
The Duke Energy deployment of this technology, according to the utility, will occur with customers in Charlotte, N.C., and in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the company has installed digital smart grid technologies. The field trial will be for a year, during which time both Duke and Cisco will solicit customer feedback to determine additional customer-desired functionality. There is no word as of yet as to how many customers will be involved or how they will be chosen.
“Cisco is excited about working with Duke Energy to bring entirely new models of energy management to their customers,” said Paul Fulton, Cisco general manager, in a statement. “Cisco’s Home Energy Management System is like a ‘virtual energy assistant’ for consumers and one we look forward to enhancing with Duke and an ecosystem of partners. Together, we can help consumers undergo the transition to new pricing options and enjoy the benefits of better insight into, and control over, their energy consumption.”