The energy-efficient smart home of the future is upon us, thanks to Matter

Whether you’re climate-conscious or tightening the purse strings in the face of the cost of living crisis, energy management and savings have never been more important.

Smart meter deployments around the world have put more emphasis on energy consumption, but many of us still lack the power to support our household energy consumption without implementing complex and expensive home management systems.

Smart homes have often been touted as a knight in shining armor for managing energy use, but device compatibility and interoperability issues have drastically reduced the technology’s potential. That’s, of course, down to Matter, the communications standard promising to overhaul the way smart home devices work together.

At an event in Amsterdam last week hosted by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), the founding body of Matter, Schneider Electric took the stage to deliver a speech on the potential implications of Matter for energy management and smart devices. We caught up with Sitao Ma, Vice President of Connected Systems and CTO of Global Home & Distribution at Schneider Electric after the event to find out how smart homes could finally help us save money.

Energy outlook

There was a palpable desire at the event to understand the many ways Matter can help smart homes run more smoothly. However, for Schneider, it’s not just about this connection, says Ma: “We need a solution to make homes efficient, sustainable and [to] help people reduce their cost of living.

The key to unlocking the true cost-saving potential of home energy management, as Ma points out, lies in metering and controlling consumption; only with this information can automation and optimization reduce costs.

He explains, “When you can measure it, you can manage it. Our consumer surveys have shown us that when you know how and where you spend and consume your energy, you can achieve a 5-10% reduction either by [mindset] or behavioral changes.

So far, for most people, that hasn’t been a possibility. Energy management systems like those from Schneider can help you achieve this, but even the most connected homes will find it nearly impossible for all devices to speak the same language, from central heating to lighting and appliances.

Schneider has spent decades working on its energy management systems, and Ma says that with the advent of Matter comes the opportunity to see this technology impact homes around the world. “When you reach this [level of] the interaction between your devices, you can start optimizing. Like, letting your heating system talk with appliances like your washing machine so you can choose the right time to run them,” says Ma. “Matter, in the future, will help expand and enhance the [energy management] system.”

Schneider Electric Wiser bridge next to iPhone showing Schneider's energy management app

(Image credit: Schneider Electric)

Start small and save

According to a survey conducted by Schneider, smart home technology is an area in which people are investing heavily; 70% of respondents expressed interest in smart home energy management technology, but a much lower percentage (less than 30%) owned it.

Ma also refers to data suggesting that energy bill increases disproportionately affect low-income households in some countries, which in itself poses a dichotomy; how can smart homes become accessible to those who need them most?

As was often emphasized at last week’s event, Matter is a journey, which has only just begun with Matter 1.0. However, using the example of Schneider’s PowerTag, which can be connected to electrical systems to provide energy management and monitoring, Ma says you can start to see what changes you can make around the home. From there you can move on to home management systems, heating management or smart thermostats, and as you add to your system you can start taking smart steps to gradually increase your savings. Ma says, “Our approach is that you can start small, but at the same time, we’ll help you step by step to a good result. [level].”

As more devices become compatible with Matter, this process will become easier, taking the friction out of the process of adding devices to your energy management system.

As for Schneider’s next steps, Ma says we’ll “likely” see a variety of new products hitting the market next year, including “new switches, dimmers, shutter controllers, and smart plugs and outlets.” smart – those coming out in the Matter-approved market. New connectable home devices will launch Matter-native or Matter-upgradeable. We develop our devices with this proven standard… even for our existing portfolio, we try to integrate them into the system Matter.

Schneider has already announced the Matter-certified Wiser gateway, which will also help make its existing portfolio Matter-ready as well.

Matter will help your smart home gadgets work together

(Image credit: Matter)

Analysis: The room where it happens

From an outside perspective, it’s pretty hard to appreciate how much collaboration has been brought to Matter 1.0 – until you actually see these tech giants standing in the same room – and how much this will continue to be the foundation of its future. It’s a timid step forward for the smart home, as shown Amazon’s step-by-step approach and Google’s one-year Fast Pair promisesbut none the less impressive.

Personally, I would say that energy management is the smart home area in which I invest the most. So I was thrilled to learn that ASC has a working group dedicated to collaborative efforts that will enable customers to benefit from energy saving opportunities that the Matter-Enhanced Smart Home of Tomorrow will grant. . In addition to contributing to this working group, Schneider Electric also chairs the Marketing Committee and the Data Model Working Group.

Ma says the group works together to see “what makes sense for material and energy management”, and is made up of contributors who specialize in energy management: smart panels, heating systems, pumps heat generators, boilers, electric vehicle chargers and energy storage.

The potential, if the task force and CSA are successful, seems quite monumental, but as I’ve been told many times in the past week since the launch of Matter 1.0, this is just the start of a long process.

Yet, having worked alongside the energy industry in another area, I can’t help but be thrilled to see this hard-won battle starting to pay off. There’s a lot to be said for how, on an individual scale, saving energy isn’t reducing global carbon emissions and energy waste – but empowering consumers to take ownership of the management of energy, even if just to cut costs, is a light at the end of an extremely long tunnel, and knowing that this is something I could see in my lifetime gives me hope for generations to come.

What I would give to be a fly on a wall in one of the rooms where these working groups take place. Granted, I couldn’t understand a word of technical jargon, but collaborative efforts on this scale are a thing of beauty. The promise of a greener and cheaper future for home energy seems much more promising.

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