Today in Cleantech

Can technology help homeowners save energy, rather than ignore it? Yes — if the prices are right. That’s the gist of this morning’s news from smart thermostat company Energate, which reports that it has shown a 50-percent reduction in home energy use in two pilot projects that use utility pricing programs that charge more during times of peak power demand and less during off-peak hours. We’ve already covered one of those pilot projects, which saw Energate’s thermostats connected to Silver Spring Networks’ smart meter communications in partnership with utility Oklahoma Gas & Electric. The other project took place in Ontario, Canada, one of the first jurisdictions in North America to try out variable peak pricing at a wide scale. Both pilots relied on technology to tell homeowners when they were going to be charged more for power and adjust their thermostat settings to use less air conditioning during peak power times. That’s different than the work done by startup EcoFactor, which recently announced it could drive a 17-percent reduction in home energy use by automatically adjusting smart thermostats without any homeowner involvement or peak pricing. Perhaps a combination of smart automation and peak pricing will be the next big step for home energy management technology?