Is This the Silver Bullet for the Environment?

Utilities are willing to pay Google a lot of money for data on your energy usage.

Apr 27, 2014 at 11:40AM

The future of energy efficiency could be driven by data. At least that's what companies such as SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) are banking on. SolarCity offers its customers PowerGuide, a home energy monitoring system. Meanwhile, Google's recent purchase of Nest Labs came with the Learning Thermostat, which also monitors home energy use. Both systems are aimed at saving consumers money by using data to reduce energy consumption.


Photo credit: Google. 

The idea is that homeowners will use this information to make money-saving changes to their energy consumption. SolarCity cited research that found that "immediate feedback" on energy use could save users 5%-15% on their utility bills. This happens because customers will use the real-time feedback provided by the data to shift energy-intensive activities, such as washing clothes, to off-peak hours to level out usage. This saves the homeowner money and reduces peak load demand at the utility, which could mean burning less coal.

Google's Learning Thermostat can actually take this data one step further. In select areas of the country, utilities will actually pay owners of Google's Learning Thermostat to have their thermostats turned down during peak demand on hot summer days. The program, called Rush Hour Rewards, could enable homeowners to receive rebates of $20-$60 from their utility for unit, in addition to the energy savings from turning down the air conditioning during peak demand.

Nest Cooling With Leaf

Photo credit: Google (nest cooling with leaf)

The program allows the thermostat to pre-cool a home when it's cheaper to do so. Then, while everyone else is paying peak rates, the Rush Hour Rewards member's AC unit auto-adjusts to a higher than normal temperature. This should keep participating homeowners comfortable, while saving them money and reducing peak load demand for the utility.

Utilities are willing to pay big money for demand response systems such as this. It is estimated that a good demand response system, which will reduce energy use in a home by 30% during peak times, is worth about $80 per thermostat. Nest believes that it can actually reduce consumption by 50%-60% during such periods with its thermostat, making it even more valuable to utilities and to homeowners.

Access to have real-time data to drive energy use down could have a significant impact on demand. Data could encourage SolarCity customers to hold off on energy-intensive activities, while that same data could lead to rebates to owners of Google's Learning Thermostat. While this trend might not be the silver bullet to save the environment, it can help by leveling out some of the energy load during peak times. Not only will that reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burned to meet demand, but it will save both consumers and utilities a lot of money.

Are you ready to profit from this $14.4 trillion revolution?
Let's face it, every investor wants to get in on revolutionary ideas before they hit it big. The problem is, most investors don't understand the key to investing in hyper-growth markets. The real trick is to find a small-cap "pure-play" and then watch as it grows in EXPLOSIVE lockstep with its industry. Our expert team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's poised to produce rocket-ship returns with the next $14.4 TRILLION industry. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening report.

Matt DiLallo owns shares of SolarCity. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and SolarCity. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and SolarCity. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers