When it comes to making the electric grid smarter, utilities are sometimes on the sidelines.
Home security company Vivint today announced a deal with Tendril to fill out its home security offering with enhanced energy-management features. The deal shows how home automation systems can be expanded through cloud-based smart-grid services.
Vivint earlier this year rebranded itself (it was called APX Alarms) and launched an energy-management package to complement its home monitoring service. For $57.99 per month--an additional $8 a month over the security service--a customer gets a wireless thermostat, a smart plug to control lights or small appliances, and a pack of compact fluorescent bulbs.
Right now, people can use the Vivint console to control security and thermostat settings. For example, a person can hit the "away" button when leaving to adjust the thermostat and arm the security. The service can also be accessed over the Web or an iPhone app, so a person could precool a home or control appliances that are connected to the system.
Through its partnership with Tendril, Vivint intends to add to the energy management offering with more detailed information and recommendations. The Tendril software can analyze usage patterns and combine it with weather data, for example, to generate very specific recommendations on how to customize the system, explained Alex Dunn, the chief operating officer of Vivint.
Linking to Tendril's back-end services means other services are possible, such as having a clothes dryer go into energy-saving mode during peak-power times to save money, said Dennis Kyle, the senior director of strategic and new market development at Tendril.
Customer reception for the combined energy/security services has been good, the company said. Vivint has signed on about 70,000 customers for its energy-management services out of about 170,000 new customers.
The main reason that customers are signing on to the energy service is that it helps improve energy efficiency and save money, said Tanguy Serra, the president of Vivint Energy. Secondly, it gives them the ability to remotely control appliances, lights, or the thermostat, he said.
Tendril, which primarily sells its home energy monitoring and control service through utilities, said this is the first time it has partnered with a home automation and security company. Competitor EnergyHub is expected to announce a deal to offer an energy management service through a broadband provider, such as a cable company, in the coming months.
"All of these entities, in addition to utilities, already have a relationship with consumers and can have a dialogue with them about energy," said Kyle from Tendril. "These other companies want to be part of the energy Internet."
One advantage a service provider like Vivint brings is the ability to install hardware. Tracking a home's power consumption requires either an activated smart meter or another device. Vivint will install a sensor that clamps onto a circuit box and communicates usage data to its console.