Ideal full of realistic skin, smart home development frustrated

Smart home is undoubtedly one of the hottest new cool technologies in the world, but from Wi-Fi thermometers to automated kitchen appliances to smart air conditioners, these devices can help consumers save more than just bring convenience to people's lives. Really "silver"? The CNBC website of the US Financial News Channel recently pointed out that although consumers will consider saving money and energy when purchasing smart home products, the high cost associated with the upgrading of houses has blocked a large number of low-income families from the door of smart homes.

According to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US residents' electricity prices are expected to rise by nearly 4% this year as the price of oil and natural gas rises in the cold winter. The high cost of heating and electricity consumption has caused more and more people to pay attention to home energy conservation, and smart technology enables consumers to monitor household energy consumption and adopt corresponding energy-saving measures to reduce household expenses in the long run.

However, the overall limitations and the cost of initial installation will undoubtedly discourage many consumers from home energy-saving technologies. At the same time, most smart home technology providers are naturally biased towards “a family” – after all, people with homes are willing to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their home facilities. The smart thermostat itself is not expensive, but you have to have a room to enjoy the benefits.

Motivation to buy: Is it really energy saving?

Market participants claim that consumers' motivation to buy smart home products also includes saving money and protecting the environment. A study published last month by the University of Michigan's Energy Research Institute showed that consumers at all income levels are concerned about the environmental impact of energy consumption.

But Jeremy Warren, vice president of energy-saving technology and home monitoring equipment provider Vivint, points out that some smart home device users are motivated for convenience and security, and many users feel that they use computers or mobile devices to control their homes. Facilities are very cool – these users mostly have higher incomes and have rooms. Vivint's latest Sky platform can use cloud computing technology to collect information on home appliance energy consumption, and then propose energy-saving recommendations to users.

Warren believes that energy conservation, money saving, convenience, safety, and the pursuit of identity symbols and fashion trends are all included in the motivation of consumers to buy smart home products.

Intelligent technology company EcoFactor claims that their energy-saving software can help companies and utilities save 10% on electricity bills.

Where are the opportunities for low-income families?

Smart homes contain a wide range of software and hardware technologies, and the convergence of hardware and software technologies is maturing in this area, enabling companies to cater to key stakeholders who are willing to pay for energy, convenience and luxury.

Lighting control alone is a market that is expected to reach $1.7 billion; market research firm Navigant Research predicts that the market for automatic thermostats will reach $1.4 billion by 2020. Experts pointed out that consumers' growing interest in home technology and the sharp rise in energy costs have created new markets with huge potential and to be developed.

But for now, the costs associated with upgrading homes have hampered the popularity of smart home technology, and many low-income households have been blocked from smart homes – market research shows that these families are biased. It is also the biggest beneficiary of energy-saving technology.

According to a report released by energy-saving software provider Opower in June this year, low-income households sometimes consume more electricity than households with higher incomes. But the company also pointed out that achieving home energy efficiency does not necessarily require the use of costly technology.

Opower's Barry Fischer points out that making small changes in behavior based on personalized information and recommendations can also greatly help save energy costs. He said that using certain household appliances at specific times of the day can save a lot of power. For some consumers who are concerned about household energy consumption, small-scale adjustments to household facilities that do not require major efforts are often the most cost-effective.

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