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Summary:

Energy software startup EnergyHub is powering around 100,000 connected thermostats in the U.S. with its management software, and those thernostats are producing around 5 billion data points each month. What kind of trends will that big data reveal about Americans and energy consumption?

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Energy software startup EnergyHub is powering around 100,000 connected thermostats in the U.S. with its management software called Mercury. While that might not sound like a whole lot, those 100,000 thermostats are producing around 5 billion data points each month, and that’s starting to reveal some interesting trends about how Americans consume energy.

EnergyHub says through crunching its customers’ energy data it’s discovered such counterintuitive notions like: folks in cold climates have a lower average heating temperature set point than households in warmer states. So basically the average person in a warm state like Texas sets his/her heating temperature significantly higher than an average person in a colder state like Vermont — despite that you’d think the person in the cold state would need a lot more heating than the person in the warm state.

But that statistic is probably due to the fact that people in the colder climates would have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on heating if they wanted to heat their homes in a similar fashion to a person in a warmer state — because there are that many more cold days, and those cold days can be really cold. So the people who live in cold states are just, frankly, dealing with it and going without the extra heat. As EnergyHub explained it: “Darwin’s core tenet is alive and well—it appears folks in the colder climates have adapted to their surroundings!”

That tid bit is just an example of the kinds of things that connected thermostats and analytics will be able to reveal about home energy consumption habits. And the more utilities, consumers and companies know about home energy consumption habits, the more energy consumption habits can be shaped and pushed to be more efficient.

EnergyHub’s CEO Seth Frader-Thompson told me in an interview that the company is expecting to add another 100,000 or so connected thermostats to its software platform this year, and much of those will come from utility deals — we have some 16 or so utility deals in trial and commercial stages, says Frader-Thompson. Currently the company’s 100,000 thermostats under management are largely due to service provider deals (like telcos and cable operators), or sold through retailers, and Mercury is the smart software behind Radio Thermostat’s WiFi thermostat.

EnergyHub also sells an energy dashboard and service, but started selling the connected thermostat service after the company’s customers started asking for a stand alone thermostat product. “This is by far our best year for holistic energy solutions,” said Frader-Thompson.

The smart thermostat has gotten a lot of ink in recent months because of the launch of Nest and its learning thermostat. While Nest provides both a well-designed thermostat, and also the behavioral and learning analytics. many of the other energy software startups are now shying away from building the hardware and thermostats themselves.

  1. Very interesting – An issue seems to be that education re thermostat use is poor.
    A post I wrote recently http://kwiqly.blogspot.com/2011/12/energy-savings-they-think-you-ought-to.html which is mainly common sense got to #3 in reddit frugal controversial category.

    A lot of people just don’t believe you should turn down ‘stats to save on heating

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  2. Alicia from England Thursday, January 19, 2012

    “So basically the average person in a warm state like Texas sets his/her heating temperature significantly higher than an average person in a colder state like Vermont — despite that you’d think the person in the cold state would need a lot more heating than the person in the warm state.”

    So why is that counterintuitive?? Is it not common sense that the person in the warm state is less acclimatized to colder temperatures so keeps it warmer in winter? Said as someone who moved from a colder place (England) to a warmer one (Texas) and now would find an average English summer day (60s) intolerably cold compared to a now only pleasantly warm average mid-90s for early summer. It takes time for humans to acclimatize, very simple. As winter proceeds we drop the average theromstat setting as we get used to it. Same in reverse for summer – as the heat goes on for weeks and then months we raise the temperature setting for the AC. Obvious innit?

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  3. This is not counterintuitive to any southerner who’s seen northerners visit the Gulf or Florida beaches in the middle of winter, strip down to their skivvies and frolic in the 65deg ocean water.

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  4. My guess is that you’d find the reverse, too, that people in Maine probably don’t like hot temperatures and would keep AC set at a far lower temp that somebody in TX or AZ.

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  5. I live in IL and we keep our thermostat set at 65 at night and 68 during the day. I’m always freezing but heat costs so much.

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  6. This could make calculating HDD (heating degree days) interesting if base temperatures should be different for different parts of the country.

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  7. In addition to people being acclimatized to their local conditions, houses are also built differently. So when it does get cooler in southern climates, there may not be as much insulation in the home or fireplaces to help keep them warm. Clothing can be different as well. Humidity, wind and altitude also make a difference in how cold you will feel. There are a lot of factors. It would be interesting to see what happens when air conditioning is reviewed.

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