As 2011 comes to a close, I'm curious to see what 2012 will bring to the home energy market. In 2011 we saw the announcement of the Nest thermostat, witnessed the demise of Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm, built a Porsche EV, covered renting a Nissan Leaf, buying a fuel efficient diesel car, uncovered the HoJo motor scam, wrote about the next phase of home energy monitoring and even told readers who they could build their own DIY open source home energy monitor.
I believe we will start to see electric cars really take off in 2012, especially as Ford enters the market here in the U.S. I think we'll also see more community solar programs and innovative solar financing models. But as for the rest of the residential energy market, I'm not so optimistic that we'll see any game changers.
For the most part, the majority of Americans are largely disengaged with how they use energy and what they can do to use less of it. Energy consumption is an afterthought. It's something most people think about for all of 13 seconds as they skim through the energy bill for the month. In order to change the relationship Americans have with energy, two main things need to occur:
First, Americans will have to place more value on conserving energy. We value things that make us feel better emotionally. We feel better emotionally when we understand how energy conservation helps:
- limit the damage done by fossil fuel externalities
- keep more money in our bank account
- fight climate change (if that's something you believe in)
For many Americans, energy is inexpensive both economically and emotionally. If energy prices drop (because externalities are not always accounted for) or if the public is disengaged with the benefits of conserving energy, then Americans will remain disengaged with their energy consumption, and there won't be much hope for the second thing needs to occur for us to care about energy conservation.
Second, we need to see more innovative products and services to help homeowners save energy. More on that in part 2 later this week!