Best Buy to Offer Home Energy Tools -- Finally!

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Photo by The Consumerist via Flickr CC

The next time you're in a Best Buy, you might be able to pick up a home energy monitor or other tool for saving electricity use at home. And if you're having a new electronic installed or repaired in your home by the Geek Squad, you'll be able to add on a home energy audit. Best Buy is moving into the energy efficiency realm, and helping more customers (hopefully) shrink their energy footprint. Despite the disappointing disappearance of home energy management platforms like Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm, Best Buy sees potential profit in selling home energy management products and services and will start the sales next month, reports a Star Tribune. Exactly which products will be on the shelves is apparently still a secret.

Three stores in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco will carry a stock of smart thermostats and outlets, energy use monitors, and other tools in a "Home Energy" section being rolled out in the stores.

"We believe that there's not a space that technology isn't going to affect in consumers' lives," CEO Brian Dunn said. "And energy management is right over the next horizon .... We see this as a logical extension of our core business." In fact, Dunn argued, true sustainability will only occur when companies such as Best Buy take the lead. It's not as if new tools and technologies aren't there -- in this past CES, the connected home was a prominent theme among several major brands.

So finally we'll see some home energy management tools in stores in front of the average person and entering mainstream consciousness, though we've already seen major companies take up the challenge only to fizzle out their efforts after failing to get the public on board. While it's disappointing to see such a slow and fumbling start to getting consumers aware of and interested in their energy usage habits, it's good to see large companies still interested in giving it a shot. We can only assume that eventually, with companies like GE and now stores like Best Buy offering products to customers that we'll finally "get it" and monitoring energy use will become cool.

According to the article, the company acknowledges that the prices of technologies for monitoring and controlling home energy use have dropped, and that, along with the fact that practically everyone owns a smart phone or mobile device for checking in on energy use, (not to mention an economy in which penny-pinching is ever more popular) could make all the difference.

As Think Progress notes, "This follows moves from other major retailers like Lowes and Home Depot, which have offered solar packages and energy efficiency services. But this is the first time a consumer electronics chain has jumped into the market."

The fact that this is the first consumer electronics chain to offer a range of home energy management tools in a special section is kind of amazing. It's 2011, folks. And we're talking consumer electronics. Gadgets + Electricity. This should have happened oh, at least five years ago. But hey, a start is a start.

The three stores are the test markets -- if the sales show up here, then we may see "Home Energy" sections spring up in other Best Buy stores nationwide.

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