It’s the week of investors realizing the potential of energy management tools. On Tuesday, Tendril announced a $30 million round of funding, and on Wednesday, Cambridge, UK-based AlertMe said it has raised £8 million ($13.04 million) in a Series B round from Good Energies, Index Ventures, SET Partners and VantagePoint Venture Partners. Who’s got Thursday’s slot? There’s a whole list of options here.
AlertMe is a 3-year-old company that builds a home energy management product that uses a Zigbee-based wireless network, sensors and smart plugs to monitor and manage energy consumption in homes. The kit, which costs between £149.00 ($243) and £399 ($650), plus £9.99 per month — depending on the size and features — is one of the few energy management products that is actually available now (anyone can buy it on the web site), and it doesn’t have to use a smart meter (though it can work with smart meter data, too).
But AlertMe, like most of these companies, plans to focus largely on selling to utilities as its main business, and tells us that as the direct-to-consumer market grows bigger, it will consider a direct-to-consumer product as a secondary channel. Well, even if the company is only dabbling in direct-to-consumer, now the geek in me likes that I can already buy it.
Since AlertMe wants to focus on utilities, it’s got to get some pilots in there. The company tells us cryptically it is “working closely with some of the largest UK utilities and service providers which we expect to convert to major strategic relationships in the near term.” But AlertMe decided more recently to focus all of its efforts on energy management, rather than its other services like wireless security. And, thus, the company seems to have a strong history in product design and packaging (the part that can attract consumers) and is less familiar with utility deals.
AlertMe is one of those tools that is trying to focus on reducing the energy per specific appliance or device (like Tendril), and each of its smart plugs acts as both a sensor for measurement as well as a load controller that a customer can manipulate. AlertMe says through its system, customers can save 25 percent of their residential energy costs, and the system pays for itself in about a year. The company is also focusing on a web interface to enable customers to manage the system, and texts or emails when the customer is away from a computer.
We say the more the merrier in the energy management space, since it will mean better options for customers and utilities, but there will start to be some clear winners and losers as the market becomes more mature over the coming years.