Image via Tendril
Tendril, one of the main leaders in the home energy management industry, is finally releasing what most other home energy management companies have already released - a gadget for watching your energy consumption and shifting to better habits through access to real time usage and pricing information. But while home power monitors and dashboards abound, Tendril is hoping this one won't get lost in the fray. It's called "Vision" and it's a digital clock-like in-home energy display. But does a single-use device like this have a place in a market rapidly evolving toward multi-use gadgets?Tendril's "Vision" Device Debuting Next Week
Tendril's Vision device will be debuted at DistribuTECH, the nation's leading trade show focused on utility energy distribution and efficiency.
It has the capability of linking consumers directly with their utility so they can get real time information on their energy use and bills. The hope - as it is with all these devices - is that it will encourage energy efficiency in the home. The inspiration for the device came from a digital clock, with the thinking that getting continuous information on a display will engage consumers.
"For the first time, people at home can receive real-time information through a highly intuitive device. It allows them to take an active role in how much energy they use in order to change their behavior and see immediate results," Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said. "Utilities realize that they need to engage directly with their customers in order to drive efficiency and energy reduction. Vision provides the means of immediate communication and action that has been missing in consumers' homes until now."
The device will show peak demand information so users can plan accordingly - such as waiting to run the dish washer until later when the energy pricing is lower. According to Tendril, "the real-time data display is also accompanied by a web portal service that allows customers to look at detailed information online as well as create, and manage, their own customized energy use plan."
Another Home Power Monitor In Need of Utilities
It is a little tough to get excited about yet another home energy monitor, especially when the purpose of them is to show not only real time energy usage information, but also real time pricing. But utilities are slow to sign on to smart grid technology that would provide such real time pricing information to consumers.
Earth2Tech highlights an important point: "While the Vision will be able to provide data for real-time pricing and demand response events, how "real-time" that information will be totally depends on the utility. As we've been reporting this week most utilities won't be able to provide anything close to real-time pricing information to its customers for quite some time. Despite the fact that Google (a Tendril partner) is pushing for real-time energy pricing and usage data, the big utilities in California (which are some of the most progressive in the U.S.) are pushing back."
Finding Usefulness for Home Power Monitors Without Utilities
All is not lost for home energy monitors, though. A user can still get great data without the assistance of their utility - Google and its partnership with TED devices shows that. But what other companies in the field have found is that a basic energy display monitor doesn't cut it among consumers. It is soon ignored or forgotten because of the singularity of the information it provides. Perhaps only the person who pays the bills will lend it any attention.
That is why more and more companies are looking towards multi-use devices that incorporate the home energy information. Open Peak 7 is one company with just such a device. Not only does it provide you with all the information on your home energy consumption, but it also can be used to watch YouTube videos, log in to Facebook, play games, get news and weather reports... The hope is that it becomes a tool used by the entire family all day long, and not just another gadget that looses its utility. This is a great idea not only for making energy efficiency part of the daily routine, but also helps by minimizing devices used in the home. As Open Peak 7 is currently part of a pilot program for a smart grid installment in Texas, at least one user found that the computers in the home are turned off far more often - the little things the family does during the evening that call for a computer, such as checking in on Facebook or Twitter, can be done on this device instead, saving energy in itself, let alone informing the user about their energy efficiency across the home.
This is also a similar hope for Apple's iPad, that not only will one be able to use it for reading books, gaming, and pretty much anything else you can think of, but that you'll also be able to use it to monitor home energy usage. It seems multi-use gadgets will play more of a role than single use gadgets such as Vision. Putting the information where the eyeballs are is the most important part of energy efficiency action among those in the industry - and we're still feeling out the most effective ways to do this.
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