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Home security packaged with energy and solar

Smart-grid trials are giving consumers more control over home energy, but home security company Vivint is using home automation to offer similar services.

Vivint is a home security company looking for growth in home energy and solar installations.

The company, formerly called APX Alarms, today is scheduled to announce its new name and strategy to expand into home automation. It now has about 16,000 homes using a combined home alarm and energy management system, which it expects to grow to about 100,000 customers this year, according to CEO Todd Pederson.

It's not just for arming the home anymore. The Vivint panel lets consumers control thermostats and connected devices.
It's not just for arming the home anymore. The Vivint panel lets consumers control thermostats and connected devices. Vivint

Many utility-run smart-grid programs give consumers the ability to monitor their electricity usage and program appliances to run at off-peak times to save money. But similar energy management functions are being offered as part of home entertainment or security systems.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, a number of companies showed off home automation systems featuring home energy management as one application. Broadband providers, including Verizon, are also packaging energy management with other services.

Vivint's system works with a touch-screen panel that does both security and home control. Right now, it lets people remotely control a thermostat from the panel, a smartphone, or Web page.

The latest version expands the home automation with wireless light switches and wireless plugs for small appliances. Those devices use the Z-Wave protocol to communicate with the main control panel, which uses the cell phone network to connect to Vivint.

In the coming months, the company plans to offer solar panel installation services as well, said Pederson. "We think solar is just a natural fit from a service perspective," he said.

Vivint says that consumers can expect about $25 savings a month on electricity bills by turning off equipment from a central point. For example, there are pre-set programs so that a person can hit an "away" button on the control panel and the thermostat adjusts and other connected appliances turn off.

The cost for the service is either $44.99 or $49.99 per month after a $99 fee. Energy management is $6.99 per month and a security camera is another $9.99 per month.

The company is also looking to work with utilities' smart meters so consumers can participate in demand response programs where they get a rebate for moving power-hungry jobs to off-peak times.

Home security company ADT is also offering a home energy management service that lets people program and control thermostats and other connected devices remotely.