Smart thermostats to get smart cloud software

The familiar manual Honeywell thermostat will get a 21st-century upgrade by connecting over the Internet to Opower's home energy-efficiency recommendation service.

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
2 min read

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The gateway to controlling home energy--the thermostat--is joining the Internet in the name of better and more customized energy efficiency.

Thermostat maker Honeywell today announced a partnership to develop a product platform with Opower, which provides customized home energy efficiency recommendations by analyzing home energy patterns.

Products from the collaboration will be ready for testing with utilities in the next few months, according to representatives from the company. The deal was announced at the GridWeek conference here.

Screen capture by Martin LaMonica/CNET

The companies were cagey on precise details about the product, but said it will combine Opower's energy efficiency recommendation system with Honeywell's smart thermostat, which uses a home broadband connection or a two-way smart meter.

People will be able to program heating and cooling from a touch-screen display on the thermostat or through Internet-connected devices, such as a smart phone app or a browser. Opower's software will provide people with recommendations or alerts related to home energy. For example, one feature could be the ability to get notification that peak-time electricity rates have gone into effect and to allow people to change thermostat settings remotely.

Opower has made a name for itself by providing efficiency recommendations through utilities, either by paper reports, e-mails, or a utility portal tied to a customer's account. Opower's software can analyze an individual home's energy use in detail, but the primary goal of the product will simply be to make programmable thermostats more approachable.

In general, programmable thermostats quickly pay for themselves and lower home energy consumption but most people don't actually program them. "The big lever here is getting people to properly use them," said Ogi Kavazovic, the vice president of marketing and strategy at Opower.

The first pilots will be done through utilities, but Honeywell intends to sell the new product through different sales channels, including installers and retails stores, said Jeremy Eaton, vice president of Honeywell Energy Solutions.

There are a growing number of smart thermostats, which let people remotely control home energy settings and get customized data around home energy.

Today, consumer energy company Tendril said it has connected its cloud-based energy efficiency recommendation service to smart thermostats from Ecobee. EnergyHub last month announced a cloud-based service linked to a thermostat for optimizing home energy which is expected to be offered through a cable service provider.