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The best smart home devices to improve your energy consumption

A guide to what Energia, Bord Gáis, Electric Ireland and SSE Airtricity offer customers

1. Energia has partnered with Netatmo for the past six years. "It offers thermostat control through the phone," says Energia energy services manager Cormac Mannion. "It has been very successful as a customer acquisition and retention tool. We are now looking at what's next with smart metering and what that will enable. That will enable the design of tariffs and products to suit people's different needs."

And that means more than just heating controls. “There’s been quite a leap in the last couple of years,” he says. “Solar PV has come more to the forefront in Irish homes due to the fall in the cost of the technology and the availability of a feed-in tariff for microgeneration. Householders can now supply to the grid and get compensated for it. We launched our grid product late last year where we instal solar PV and a battery in the home. Customers are already getting compensated for selling power back to grid.”

And app control will be able to go further. “It’s a very exciting time,” he adds. “In the next few years more and more people will have big batteries in their driveways. This will enable V2G (vehicle to grid) services. People will be able to sell a portion of storage back to grid. Several hundred or thousand EVs could form a virtual power plant.”

2. Bord Gáis Energy offers customers the Hive Active Heating smart thermostat which lets householders control their heating and hot water through mobile, tablet or PC. The Hive range of smart home devices includes light bulbs, motion sensors and smart plugs. The company's latest bundle for new customers includes a free Amazon Dot to allow people to switch their heating on and off with voice commands.

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The Google Nest Learning Thermostat is available from Electric Ireland for €130 including professional installation. This allows householders to control and schedule their home heating from their phone or PC. It learns the temperatures you like and creates a custom schedule for the home. It automatically turns itself down after you leave so you're not heating an empty home.

3. Electric Ireland also offers the Irish designed and manufactured Climote device for €90. Climote features a digital time clock which allows users to control their heating using the in-home device or via an app. It also uses a SIM card, meaning there is no need for an internet connection.

4. The Pinergy App recently won the App of the Year award at the Digital Business Awards. The app gives users clear, easy to understand information on their energy consumption, hour by hour and day by day, helping them control what they use. In this case, knowledge means less power consumed.

“We have just launched our new ‘Lifestyle’ proposition,” explains Pinergy head of marketing David Slattery. “It’s targeted at people with smart meter. We are taking the information from the meter and giving it to the customer on the app. I can look at my own app and see that we used a certain amount of units yesterday and that it cost €2.48. And I can see exactly when I used it. It empowers the resident to see what they used yesterday, last week, and the last few months. You can compare against your own daily usage and see if it was a good or bad day. And you are able to compare against homes like your own as well.”

The company has also introduced time-of-use tariffs which offer discounted rates at different times. “We have a family-time tariff between 6pm and 10pm and a work-at-home tariff between 9am and 5pm. People can use the app to make sure they are making the most of those. We also have electric vehicle charging time between 2am and 5am at discounted rates.”

5. SSE Airtricity has an offer for new customers which includes a free smart home bundle. The bundle includes the Climote device which lets you control your heating and hot water from anywhere, as well as an Amazon Echo device, which lets you control compatible smart home devices with voice commands. Customers who switch dual fuel to SSE Airtricity get a free Climote and Echo Show 5 as well as an Echo Dot. Customers who switch electricity to SSE Airtricity get a free Climote and Echo Show 5.

One hundred per cent of SSE Airtricity’s green energy product offerings are smart enabled, with time-of-use tariffs for day, night and peak times. The company encourages customers interested in activating their smart meters to contact them in order to enable services and implement real control over their energy usage.

The company is set to launch a number of new products this summer which will further assist customers to be more efficient in their energy usage.

“Digitisation and technology play a key role in meeting the changing demands of customers and that is integral to the future of energy,” says Klair Neenan, managing director of SSE Airtricity. “Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we’re building a suite of bespoke smart energy offerings based on our customer’s data. So that we can truly meet our customers energy needs and demands; while working toward net zero and a cleaner, greener future.”