• Smart Homes
  • IoT Standards
  • Smart Meters
  • Demand Response
  • Energy Management

Matter’s Implications for Smart Metering and Demand Response

Francesco Radicati
Oct 03, 2023

Electricity meter

One long-held promise of the smart home has been the possibility of using the technology to reduce household energy bills. Proponents talk about light bulbs that switch off throughout the house at the push of a button, or smart thermostats that turn on when they know you’ve come home and remain within the range that you’ve demonstrated to be your comfort zone.

Things haven’t exactly turned out that way. Regardless of the uptake of smart devices and, crucially, the propensity of homeowners to actually use their smart capabilities, some of these devices can end up using more energy, which is a problem for both users and utilities. One example is smart thermostats, which can use sensors to determine the coldest rooms in a house but frequently end up running the HVAC system longer to warm them up, regardless of the house’s underlying ventilation issues.

The Matter protocol offers the potential to improve home energy efficiency, in part by increasing consumer adoption of smart home devices thanks to greater ease of use. It also opens the possibility of connecting other devices not commonly associated with the smart home, such as smart meters. Indeed, Itron and Landis+Gyr, which dominate the smart metering market, are participating members of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, which manages Matter. The implication is that meters would be able to communicate directly with smart thermostats and other in-home devices relevant to demand response (DR).

What Consumers Want from the Smart Home Is Changing

US consumers have traditionally preferred smart technology for security and convenience purposes, rather than to lower energy bills. However, rising energy costs, home EV charging, and the need to keep the lights on amid extreme weather events are persuading users of the importance of energy savings, bringing them more in line with consumers in Europe.

At the same time, many utilities also offer DR programs, remotely controlling individual users’ thermostats to help balance the load overall. The advantage for the homeowner is a reduced heating/cooling bill, while the utility benefits from being able to maintain service without resorting to extreme measures like rolling blackouts.

Smart meters are an important component of such DR programs, because they let utilities see, in real time, where demand needs to be managed. In particular, second-generation smart meters are increasingly capable of integrated data processing and two-way communication, both of which are crucial to DR.

Smart Meter Penetration Is Reaching Critical Mass

Guidehouse Insights research has found that smart meter penetration reached 65% in the US in 2020, thanks to steady growth that is expected to bring penetration to 90% by around 2030. Load management and DR have grown commensurately during the same period.

These capabilities will become more important as consumers adopt more behind-the-meter devices that need to be managed closely by utilities, such as solar panels with smart inverters and EV chargers, especially those with bidirectional charging. Adding smart meters to the smart home ecosystem via Matter (or another common platform) will add new, as-yet-unimagined use cases for both end users and utilities, which will potentially unlock even greater energy savings and control.

For more information on grid-edge intelligence and automation, including smart metering, check out Guidehouse Insights’ recently published Edge Computing Market report.