Are you ready for the smart home explosion?

The digital age

The digital technology boom is gathering pace, as it’s estimated that 11 per cent of UK homes will own at least one smart system by the end of 2014. This means that 3.1 million UK households will be embracing the ‘smart’ concept; a rise of 43 per cent compared to the same figure at the end of 2013.

The digital revolution is happening; what was once seen as a distant technology is now taking the market by storm as the demand for smart applications grows. Today, consumers are now looking at how these technologies can help not only measure their energy consumption but also how they can control consumption.

Energy conscious

A key reason for this is, of course, the financial acumen. Today, heating makes up over 60 per cent of the average household’s energy use; thus as energy prices have continued to soar so has the annual fuel bill. As we all know, when it hits the back pocket consumers are much more likely to take notice and so the opportunity to invest in new products and solutions to help reduce the energy bill is becoming increasingly appealing.

But it’s not just households that are looking to control energy consumption; the UK government, along with others around the world, has committed to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. This means a cut to energy waste with the government setting a target for all UK homes to have a smart meter by 2020. Again, smart technology has a role to play in this, providing an effective means to control usage and, in turn, maximise energy savings.

So, what does this mean for the installer? Smart technology is advancing quickly and it is important to remain aware of new technologies as they arrive in the market place and understand what these technologies offer the customer.

Looking to the heating category, for example, little had changed in the way we controlled our heating systems until smart technology arrived, first enabling the consumer to see how much energy was being consumed and then via their smartphone, check the status of their heating system and turn it on if they are going to be home earlier, or off if they are not there.

But consumers still had to do the heavy lifting. We are now seeing a revolution in smart technologies for the home where they start becoming more conscious.

For example, heating technology now has moved to a point where there is a smart thermostat that can be installed into homes that does all the thinking for you as it learns from the householders heating preferences, how long it takes a home to heat up, and even when it’s empty to create a personalised and optimised heating schedule.

Learning

The recently introduced Nest Learning Thermostat features ground breaking technology that is not just about the thermostat but about its ability to learn, and being able to create a ‘conscious’ home.

In this way, it learns when the household needs more heat or wants less, it can even predict how weather conditions will alter the household’s behaviour and adjust accordingly, and will turn the system off when it senses no-one is home.

Within this ‘conscious’ home, different devices can talk to each other and create a safe environment. The complementary Nest Protect, for example, is a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that communicates with the learning thermostat, so in the event of a carbon monoxide alarm the heating system, a common source of this poisonous gas, is turned off. This device also sends information to the user’s mobile phone alerting them when an alarm goes off.

The challenge for installers is to understand what is available in the market and the different ways each technology meets different demands. This is an area that is going to grow exponentially as more and more interconnected devices are introduced into the marketplace. This introduces a new opportunity for diversifying conversations and upselling products, where installers are no longer restricted to giving advice to just a single product, but can begin talking about a much broader vision that brings new experiences and benefits to their customers, and subsequently new revenue opportunities.

According to Gartner, there will be 26 billion devices on the ‘Internet of Things’ by 2020. With the UK being an early adopter of this smart technology, installers who embrace this have the potential to take advantage and guarantee future workload. For the smart installer it’s surely time to join the digital revolution.

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