While digital home energy management tools aren’t dominating the headlines from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, a few consumer electronics makers, utilities and software designers have launched some interesting products at the show. My biggest takeaway after looking over the releases and talking to some of the firms: Consumer gadget makers are folding in energy management as one part of the entire consumer option. Many of the energy management tools also highlight features like social networking and security because, well, let’s face it, at this point it’s mostly just the bleeding edge eco-nerds (OK, I’m one of them) who would like a stand-alone high-powered energy gadget. Here’s five energy management tools outta CES:
GE’s Smart Home Energy Panel: GE has launched an energy panel in conjunction with gadget-maker OpenPeak, which connects via wireless standards ZigBee and Wi-Fi to a smart meter (GE also makes smart meters), connected appliances (GE makes those too) and connected thermostats. GE says the device is shaped like a table-top picture frame and will also connect with “Internet news, sports, music, weather services, social networks like Facebook and instant messaging.”
GE and OpenPeak’s energy panel is different than the Home Energy Manager that GE announced last year (and which is shaped like a large table-top picture frame) and which is supposed to be available in 2010. GE tells me that the HEM is being developed in-house, and that the panel announced today with OpeanPeak is market-ready.
Direct Energy’s Energy Gadget: As we first reported energy reseller Direct Energy and a group of gadget heavyweights, including appliance maker Whirlpool, retail group Best Buy, and gadget developer OpenPeak, launched a home energy management device dubbed the Home Energy Management (HEM) center at CES. Tim Woods, founder of POCO Labs, the group that will conduct the in-home tests for Direct Energy, told us the device will also offer communication and social networking information.
Control4’s Energy Management Gear: Control4 only started focusing on utilities and smart meters back in July 2009, but at CES it showed off its Energy Management System (EMS) 100. The package, which includes a Zigbee-enabled thermostat and a touch-screen energy device controller will be available in April, says CNET.
Tenrehte Technologies’ Wi-Fi Smart Plugs: A Rochester, New York-based company called Tenrehte Technologies is developing Wi-Fi-enabled smart plugs called Picowatts that can be used instead of smart meters. According to Smartmeters.com the Picowatts are about the size of an Apple AirPort and will cost $79 will then go on sale in April. The product will be sold directly to consumers.
Intamac’s Energy Offering: Connect home player Intamac said at CES that it has partnered with D-Link to offer a Home Energy Monitoring Starter Kit. The kit includes two power sensor adapters that plug into the wall sockets. When appliances are plugged into these adapters, users can see energy consumption of those devices on the mydlink.com web site. Sounds pretty weak if you ask me.