CES 2012: Elka Home Energy Management

Apparently the thing to do now is to give your home energy management product a female name. Lowe’s is coming out with a system called Iris, and now here’s Tri Cascade, at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, offering elka. What next, Bianca? (And while we’re asking questions: Doesn’t elka deserve a capital ‘E’ to start her name?)

Just as no two women are alike, elka is different from Iris. While Iris is a comprehensive smart-home device that emphasizes the ability to remotely control aspects of your home ranging from the ambient temperature to whether the back door is locked, elka appears to be a buffed out smart thermostat  focused on cutting energy use to a minimum. Tri Cascade said the elka 700-10 will allow homeowners “to reduce their energy consumption and costs by up to 35 percent in the first year.” With a price starting at $995, it would do well to be toward the upper end of that “up to 35 percent.”

elka home energy management, tri cascade

image via Tri Cascade

Tri Cascade said the system is equipped with ZigBee technology, a low-power wireless network standard, and comes with an application that will allow homeowners and utility companies to talk to each other. And what will they talk about? Well, Tri Cascade said, utilities could “send out demand response messages to the household such as events schedule, canceling of messages, support confirmation or mechanism for time-of-use pricing and price tiers.”

As you can see in the image above, elka also offers current outdoor weather conditions and the forecast, with radar and satellite views available. With the system, Tri Cascade said, users “will be notified of changes that need to be made to reduce costs and better predict energy needs based on weather patterns.”

Of course, the major premise of a home energy management system is that simply by providing information about how home energy is being used, people will be smarter about their energy use, and thus save themselves money. Tri Cascade said the elka 700-10 has folks covered on that front, providing “profile reports and household energy use information while simultaneously calculating real-time energy load data such as kilowatts, voltage, amps and power from such household devices as an HVAC, pool pump, water heater and other electronic devices.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.