Opower & Honeywell launch a smart thermostat

Earlier this year we reported that energy software startup Opower was considering adding a home energy device to its portfolio. A half year later here’s Opower’s first foray into hardware: on Tuesday the company announced that it has partnered with building automation giant Honeywell (s HON) to start selling a connected thermostat. Essentially Honeywell will provide the hardware for the thermostat and Opower will provide the software and behavior analytics tools and the duo will sell the device to utilities.

While the announcement is rather lite on details, we can envision an Opower, Honeywell smart thermostat that would use the same behavioral techniques as Opower’s energy efficiency mailed bills, like appealing to utility customer’s competitive natures and their desire to lower their monthly energy bill. Ogi Kavazovic, OPower’s vice president of marketing and strategy, told me in an interview that the thermostat is meant for a broad mainstream market and will be “cost effective,” though he declined to give the price of the thermostat.

The move is one of the first from Opower to help it move beyond its business of working with utilities to send customers detailed energy bills. Kavazovic says that he thinks the company’s foray into control systems will help boost the company’s already established ability to reduce utility customer’s energy usage by three percent, to “twice or three times.” Utilities could one day use the smart thermostats for demand response events, or when utilities control a home or businesses’ energy use during extreme peak grid hours.

The smart thermostat is available now, but Opower and Honeywell aren’t yet announcing any utility partners. Seeing which utilities buy the product will be crucial to see how valuable it is to its target market.

While Opower is essentially cleaning house right now with utility deals focused around mailed utility bills, the company will eventually need to expand into using the web and mobile to help utilities reduce their customers’ energy footprints even more. Opower’s Kavazovic says it has the utility and utility customer relationships in place to extend its behavioral analytics into connected home devices.