The other day at the Green:Net 09 conference, I spoke to someone who predicted that home-energy management systems would never take off until we could easily have a remote control to automate home appliances. Verizon may have been listening to our conversation, because the company announced yesterday that it is integrating home-energy management into its Fios broadband service some time in the next year.
Verizon can remotely update home routers, which means that customers can too. So once we give thermostats and window shades IP addresses, we can turn down the heat and schedule the shades to open or close on a daily schedule—all from our cell phones. That's the gist of what Verizon wants to do, but the company remains mum on details of a release date, partnering companies, and price.
Up until recently, consumers have looked primarily to utilities' rapidly proliferating smart meters for home-energy management. But the landscape is changing, with non-energy related companies like Black & Decker, Google, and now Verizon entering the fray. None of these companies can succeed without the detailed usage information available from smart meters, but all of them can help make energy efficiency easier for those of us with limited time, and, well, energy to devote to the cause.