Friday, 9 July 2010

AlertMe improves its interface and apps, but is it enough?

Cambridge-based company AlertMe, which provides home energy management solutions, has released a new online User Interface (UI), iPhone app and real-time in-home display. The new interface and iPhone app use the company’s new API, so more applications are expected to be developed by the company and its partners.

 

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The company has launched a number of applications providing more information on energy use, cost predictions, historic comparisons, etc. Future applications include a real-time carbon footprint, predictions of potential savings using solar panels, targets and benchmarks and an appliance adviser to recommend energy-efficient appliances.

Mary Turner, CEO of AlertMe says, “We believe consumers should have access to information about their energy use and understand how much they are spending on energy in real-time. This empowers them to make informed decisions on a day by day basis rather than waiting for a shockingly large bill, by which time it’s too late. It is widely accepted that by giving people greater visibility of their energy use and cost they can make cost savings of between 15% and 25% and for many AlertMe customers this can be upwards of 30%.

 

It’s all good stuff, but I don’t entirely agree with the CEO’s comments. A recent research report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) makes the point that feedback gadgets alone are unlikely to maximise household energy savings.  The most effective method will include both products and services – targeting, tailoring, recommendations, etc.) to provide meaning and motivation.

AlertMe is clearly doing some of that and it looks like more is coming – achieving 30% savings is certainly impressive but I doubt many users are achieving it. But, for example, is there any need for a real-time carbon footprint calculator? Not until we have smart meters and differential pricing will we get real benefits from instant detail about energy use.

© The Green IT Review

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