Could Weather Forecasting Be the Secret to Energy Management?
WeatherBug doesn’t want to just provide its weather data to energy management companies, it wants to be an energy management company.
Last year, WeatherBug, which is owned by Earth Networks, launched its e5 program, which is similar to EcoFactor’s software-as-a-service offering. Like EcoFactor, WeatherBug is hardware agnostic and makes micro-adjustments to HVAC to save energy without homeonwers even noticing a difference.
Earlier this year, e5 was rebranded SmartHome Plus. Now, WeatherBug is taking its vast weather network to offer SmartHome ScoreCard to San Diego Gas & Electric customers.
The scorecard leverages Green Button to take in smart meter data then merges it with localized weather data to deliver personalized insight into home electricity use. In some ways, the e5 program was the precursor of the reports, since it offered a report at the end of summer to homeowners.
Those reports could also compare you to a neighbor like Opower does, but it could also specify how your home performs in areas such as wind and solar infiltration. With smart meter data, it can put the data in dollar terms. Instead of just comparing you to neighbors, it also tells you how you’re scoring from one to ten on wind, solar, temperature of humidity. If you’re at a six on solar, for instance, it could suggest you shade your AC compressor. If you’re a one in any category, it will suggest a home audit.
“If you’re going to spend money, we tell you ‘here’s where you spend it,’” said Dave Oberholzer, director of energy products and business development at Earth Networks.
Oberholzer, who receives Opower reports, said that WeatherBug’s granular data allows for more customization than Opower’s, which are delivered to millions of homes. WeatherBug would like to work with utilities, but will take the scorecard directly to customers as well. If you live in a utility area that supports Green Button Connect, WeatherBug can serve you an ad on your WeatherBug app to enroll for scorecard. It’s either $4.99 annually or free with an ad-supported version.
If WeatherBug could enroll thousands of customers into its program in any single utility territory, it could then partner with a utility to tailor energy efficiency programs to those participants.
WeatherBug is not stopping at just energy efficiency, however. The company is also making a play to be the platform aggregator for the ‘bring your own thermostat’ programs, like the ones being run by Austin Energy and Southern California Edison. Oberholzer said the platform will also be able to aggregate different thermostats, such as EnergyHub and AutoGrid are doing, and provide both capacity and economic demand response to utilities.
“We have the sophistication to model the house and how much load we can shed,” said Oberholzer, which allows for residential demand response to play in economic demand response programs. Centerpoint is also piloting WeatherBug as a residential load forecasting tool in its territory.
Granular weather data is an asset in a busy market that seems to have more competition every day, but it also takes a robust platform that can meet utility needs to gain market share. Of course, there are plenty of partners outside the utility space, including big box stores, service providers and home security companies. Although WeatherBug is still in the pilot stage with most utilities, it is ready to play ball with the big guys.
“It’s taken a while to get there,” admitted Oberholzer, “but we think we’ve really started to show our weather data is a difference maker and a major factor.”
Here's what a ScoreCard would look like:
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Katherine Tweed writes on smart grid, demand response, energy efficiency and home networking for Greentech Media. Her freelance work has appeared in a range of media outlets, from Scientific American and FoxNews to Audubon Magazine and Men’s Health. She has a master’s degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting from New York University. Katherine never leaves her electronics in ...
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