Electricity Home Monitoring Solutions, 19 ZigBee products registered

Ready for the confusion, 19 home electricity monitoring solutions have been registered.

In recent months, 19 energy-management products have been certified for ZigBee interoperability. These include communicating thermostats costing $50 to $200, controllers costing $10 to $60, and in-home displays costing $50 to $200.

The WSJ reports on the momentum for home electricity monitoring solutions for the home.

People Power

The more you know about your energy use, the less energy you may use

A revolution in smart electronics is going to give consumers unprecedented ability to control energy consumption and save money.

Making it possible is the introduction of inexpensive electronics -- including thermostats and controllers -- that can be assembled into simple home networks able to control equipment such as air conditioners, lights, water heaters and furnaces.

The home systems, in turn, are the building blocks of a smart grid that seamlessly flows information on energy usage and cost from consumers to utilities and back again.

There are lots of vendors out there.

In August, ZigBee joined forces with the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, which promotes devices that use a building's wiring as the communications path. So wireless ZigBee devices soon will be able to work with HomePlug devices, which are being developed by companies such as Cisco Systems Inc., Comcast Corp., Intel Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc.

What happens with consumers behavior is the unknown.

In Boulder, Xcel Energy Inc. is ramping up a program, through its Public Service of Colorado utility, where customers will test the company's technologies and report back about what works and what doesn't. The goal is to get about 10,000 metered customers, about 20% of the city's population, doing some sort of energy management in the next year or so.

"We want to be somewhat agnostic and not influence people, because we're trying to learn more ourselves," says Sandy Simon, director of utility innovations and smartgrid strategy for Xcel.

Many test homes will be equipped with technology from GridPoint Inc. that connects to an information portal operated by the Arlington, Va., firm. GridPoint Chief Executive Peter Corsell says consumers will log onto a site and home networks will be able to tell them how much they can save, in dollars or kilowatt hours.

"You'd say, 'Cut my bill,' and it will find a way that's least painful for you," says Mr. Corsell. The system "might interrupt your water heater from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., for example, or change the setting on your thermostat."