A Parks Associates finding suggests that the milestone of 8 million smart utility meters now deployed in U.S. homes, with millions more to come in 2010, could create a tipping point for green digital technology solutions for builders. “Residential Energy Management: Company, Alliance & Technology Profiles” states that these deployments will open up significant opportunities for companies in the residential energy management value chain, helped in large part by the federal stimulus bill, which has allocated $3.4 billion for smart grid initiatives through 2010.

The time could be ripe for organizing green technology into tiers, much the same way that digital electronics manufacturers have long done with digital residential entertainment products, creating good-better-best hierarchies based on performance, functionality, and price.

Parks Associates’ Bill Ablondi suggests that a “good” package would use programmable smart thermostats that can regulate a home’s HVAC system. A “better” package would extend that control to energy-efficient appliances, and a “best” package would add control of other climate-control elements via integration with the home’s automation system.

“This kind of approach to organizing digital energy measurement and management products and systems is one that’s already familiar to builders and suppliers,” says Ablondi. “Utilities see the benefit of upgrading the grid, and consumers are growing more conscious of their energy consumption. Add in [government] incentives, and you have three strong drivers that will boost deployment and innovation in this market.”