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AlertMe Inks First Utility Trial With British Gas

AlertMeimage1Over its 3-year lifetime, Cambridge, UK-based home energy management startup AlertMe has managed to develop a slick hardware design and become one of the first startups to sell its gear to customers. In the past several months since the company decided to focus predominantly on utility sales, however, it had not announced any utility deals. But on Monday morning AlertMe plans to announce a baby step in that direction — it has scored a partnership with a division of one of the largest residential suppliers of gas and electricity in the UK, British Gas, to do a trial using AlertMe’s energy management kit.

AlertMe hinted at the deal last month and told us it had been “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.” The trial with British Gas will first focus specifically on a heating system that can be controlled remotely, enabling home owners to turn on/off, up/down their home heat from any broadband-connected device, like a PC or cell phone. British Gas is offering AlertMe gear as a voluntary option, and customers will actually have to pay for the upfront hardware as well as a recurring subscription service fee. The trial is supposed to start by the end of 2009.

AlertMe wouldn’t expand on the size of the trial or pricing of the gear and service. But when it comes to energy management products these days, utility trials are a dime a dozen. A lot of utilities are in the process of “sampling” — doing several small pilot deals with a lot of experimental companies. As a result, venture capitalists have been struggling to see past the initial lure of the smart home trial to identify the true leaders in the space.

Ultimately the most progressive utilities are using open networks and standards so that they can offer their customers any third-party application available. As the executive director of German utility Yello Strom, Martin Vesper, and the vice president of customer solutions for San Diego Gas & Electric, Hal Snyder, have told us: Whatever our customers want to use to manage energy consumption, we’ll offer it, whether that’s Google’s (s GOOG) PowerMeter, Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Hohm, or products from various gear makers.

AlertMe’s wireless network energy kit is connected to the Internet via the customer’s home broadband connection and doesn’t need a smart meter, both of which make it particularly easy for a trial — no additional utility-installed infrastructure is needed. AlertMe’s energy kit includes technology for a home wireless network, sensors and smart plugs to control appliances and can cost between £149.00 ($243) and £399 ($650), plus £9.99 ($14.09) per month, depending on the size and features. The company recently closed a Series B round of £8 million ($13.04 million) from Good Energies, Index Ventures, SET Partners and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

5 Responses to “AlertMe Inks First Utility Trial With British Gas”

  1. apparently i can leave the link here in the comments. search youtube for “AlertMe – I’ve got something new”, you’ll see what AlertMe has really been up to over the last three years.

  2. I was recently given the opportunity to review a Green Smart Power Strip, intended for saving energy in a home computing environment. The principle is sound, the master outlet will turn off other outlets when it is not being used. Reading your article, I see this smart power concept being extended to include a wireless communications capability. As a technologist I like technical solutions to energy issues. But here is the problem: In our study which can be read on our web site – – Vampire Power Facts we find that there is zero energy to be saved using this smart strip in a typical home office. Laptops have built in speakers so they do not need turning off. The printers do not do well re-initializing each time the laptop sleeps, and are better left turned off. The energy savings opportunities are in the laptops power manager, closing the screen saver, screen brightness, office lighting, and not printing extra pages. Good for paper reduction. None of these need technology, they need educations and user awareness. I do hope we can pick up on this smart power management “thing” and winkle out the technologies looking for a problem that is better recognized as user bad behavior. We did not fix the litter problem by making automated trash removers that zapped wherever we dropped, why are we wanting to do the equivalent for the careless leaving of a light on? Finding that the smart strip used 1.9 Watts continuously to do this “not useful” work was the final insult ….