ADT adds energy controls to home security service

In a deal with iControl, the home security heavyweight next week will roll out ADT Pulse, a service that combines home security with automated lighting and thermostat control.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
3 min read

When you arm your alarm system when you leave the house, how about automatically turning off all the lights and resetting the thermostat?

Home security service company ADT next month will roll out a service that does exactly that. It's a home-automation system that uses a network of wireless sensors to let people control thermostats and lights along with their traditional home monitoring service.

Called ADT Pulse, the service uses software from start-up iControl that provides the consumer portal application as well as the back-end software, said Lewis Long, the company's vice president of residential and small business marketing today. ADT will also provide a touch-screen tablet device, made by GE Security, for controlling the system, which has other applications, such as weather and news.

There are a growing number of home energy management technologies, which include everything from power monitors to Web portals made available through utilities, and many companies vying to provide energy-related products and services to end users.

The ADT Pulse system can be accessed through a PC, smart-phone application, or dedicated device for controlling thermostat, lights, cameras, and home security settings.
The ADT Pulse system can be accessed through a PC, smart-phone application, or dedicated device for controlling thermostat, lights, cameras, and home security settings. ADT

Verizon, for example, is developing a combined home energy management and security service that the company hopes to start testing later this year.

Similar to Verizon, ADT's approach is to offer additional services to its home alarm service in an effort to get more customers. The ADT Pulse system is designed to lower overall energy usage by cutting down on wasted energy and give people remote control over the thermostat, lights, and other connected devices such as cameras which use the Z-Wave protocol.

The energy-related package includes a thermostat, light switches, and a wireless module that lamps (or any other appliance) plug into. All those devices, as well as the security keypad and touch-screen controller, connect to a central hub about the size of cable modem. That connects the home router via an Ethernet cable.

The set-up lets people use a Web site to schedule a thermostat, lights, and other connected devices, such as door and window sensors or fire monitors. A person could, for example, program all the lights to turn off at a certain time every day or set thermostat settings. The system can also be accessed through an iPhone, Android phone, or the touch-screen tablet.

The company is looking to expand the service by connecting to utility meters in the future, Long said. That would allow people to view how much energy a whole house uses and what the impact of different adjustments is.

ADT started testing the service, which was first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2009, earlier this year and now has it in about 4,000 homes. Long said that anecdotally, people have been able to cut electricity use by about 20 percent, which would be a very significant savings. Many smart grid companies with home energy monitoring systems expect consumers can lower energy anywhere from a few percent to 15 percent.

The base package costs $399 for installation and $47.99 per month. The package with lighting and thermostat controls is $749 for installation and $49.99 per month. The package that includes cameras and video feeds of the home is $1,249 and $57.99 per month.