Smart thermostats are being plugged into the cloud

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Earlier today, Honeywell announced a partnership with a cloud-technology company named Opower, a business that analyzes home energy patterns to provide specific recommendations on how to effectively save on energy costs. The collaboration between the two companies will integrate the cloud-sourced information from Opower with Honeywell’s lineup of smart thermostats. The smart thermostats require a broadband Internet connection to provide access to homeowners over the Web. For instance, a homeowner could use an iPhone app to modify the temperature in a home while sitting at a desk in the workplace. 

The two companies plan on selling the initial batch of these cloud-enabled smart thermostats to utility companies, but Honeywell also wants to bring the product to consumers directly. With the Opower data, the smart thermostats should also be able to send alerts to the homeowner through the Internet when electricity rates at the utility company are at a high for the day. Ideally, the utility company should provide this information to the consumer through the utility website, but only if Opower provides the data. Opower can also analyze a specific home to determine what improvements could be made to the timing of cooling as well as the overall energy efficiency of the home.

Most importantly to frugal consumers, Opower’s data allows users to compare costs of heating and cooling against other houses within the neighborhood or the city. By comparing average costs against what a neighbor is paying, consumers can isolate problematic areas of a home and search for energy efficient upgrades to lower the overall bill each month. Opower is already working with over 57 utilities in states like California, Texas, New York, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Arizona. Through these utility companies, the Opower data is available to over 10 million consumers.   

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