During a recent monthly meeting, the TEPA Tech Committee, which includes a mix of Suppliers, Brokers and Vendors, reviewed the technology and platform provided by www.smartac.com
How does this technology seek to benefit end-use customers?
Homeowners (and renters) don’t think about the mechanics of their heating and cooling unless their unit breaks. We have a binary front-of-mind-it’s-an-emergency or don’t-think-of-it-at-all relationship to something that is of the utmost importance in our lives. Of course in the summer at the most inconvenient time it is often the former.
A big part of the reason for this is lack of visibility that prevents us from caring beyond a level if “is it on or not?” And that’s been ok, but it’s certainly suboptimal, from both a comfort and economic perspective.
If my house is getting to 72 degrees, I have no way to know if it’s getting there efficiently or not. Or if my system is costing me a significant amount extra on energy every day vs. its rated performance. If my air filters are clogged I have no idea. Or if it’s going to break soon and that breakdown is likely to happen in a summer month when repairing it or replacing it is going to be at peak price, I just have no idea.
SmartAC.com provides an incredibly inexpensive and user-friendly way to create this visibility with a few small temperature/pressure/humidity sensors that can be self-installed in minutes. There are some homeowners out there who will want this visibility for themselves, nerds (entirely affectionate use of the term here) like us. The vast majority of people won’t.
But the platform provides a really low-cost and easy way for getting this HVAC performance data such that it’s worth it for your HVAC contractor or energy company or insurance company or landlord to monitor your HVAC system for you and help you make the right decisions. Enabling your trusted service provider to use remotely accessed data to make the right decisions on HVAC repairs and replacement (and save you thousands of dollars on both electricity costs and repairs/replacements over time) is the core of what we do.
How does this technology help retail brokerage firms or retail suppliers serve customers?
Retail energy and energy brokerage is about owning a customer relationship and taking care of something customers don’t care much about (energy) so they don’t have to. Providing the lowest price or the best service or some combination; and having a customer know that this thing they don’t really care about but need is being handled by someone else.
HVAC has a very similar customer story, and of course accounts for ~50% of customer energy usage, so they are highly related! At Arcadia as we were building our residential energy services and billing business we were looking for technologies that would help us expand our customer relationship and just keep taking on more energy-related decisions so they wouldn’t have to. That was how we met SmartAC.com, and it’s what pulled me here.
Energy companies, even those without HVAC operations, are in a natural position to own the long-term decision-making around HVAC in the same way they do around electrons, and the SmartAC.com platform is an easy, full-service way to do just that. We’ll pull together the contractors behind the scenes, manage the data and service calls, handle referral payments that contractors pay you to get the service business for your customers. SmartAC.com makes it easy and natural for firms in the residential energy business to extend their influence and services for customers into HVAC.
What were the key takeaways from the conversations with the Tech Committee?
Really interesting conversation, with a lot of good questions about how we could take this into the small commercial space which we hadn’t really anticipated in the short-term. We’ll be working to figure out if there’s a way to do that that’s profitable for all. And we’re definitely keen to work with energy partners to figure out how they can use our 10 second granularity HVAC performance data in their energy purchasing and hedging decisions. As someone who’s been in the retail energy business for much of the past 15 years, I’m really excited to work with people in retail on the overlaps between electricity and HVAC.
Chief Development Officer
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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not reflect an official policy, position or endorsement by TEPA.