Back Porch: Nexia: Connecting Homeowners, HVAC Installers, and Dealers

August 31, 2016
Fall 2016
A version of this article appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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This past May at Parks Associates’ CONNECTIONS™: Connected Home Conference, I had the opportunity to speak with George Land, General Manager of Nexia—a consumer-facing brand for connected home solutions within Trane’s residential heating and air conditioning business, which is part of Ingersoll Rand. Land and I discussed the benefits of smart homes for HVAC dealers, installers, and homeowners.

George Land (GL): Within Trane’s residential HVAC business, we go to market both as Trane and American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning and Nexia Connected Home. We offer a consumer-facing app, which allows you to connect all the different devices in your house, whether it’s thermostats, locks, lighting, or sensors. That same data is available to the dealer as Nexia Diagnostics. It’s a separate application, but same data stream, with a completely different focus. Heating and air conditioning dealers can then be alerted when there’s an issue with the system well before the homeowner is even aware.

DSC01549
Tom White
is publisher of Home Energy magazine. He restores historic homes in his free time. (Kate Henke)

Today, a homeowner calls for one of two reasons: they’re uncomfortable or their electric bill is too high, but we can know well before either of those happen. The second aspect is when a homeowner does call, the dealer sees immediately what’s going on. Sometimes, they can avoid a truck roll. Other times, they can send the right guy with the right part the first time and get the customer back up and running when they arrive, versus go there, see what the problem is, and then go to the parts house. That’s really a big focus for us.

Tom White (TW): Does Nexia connect with Amazon Echo or Apple Homekit?

GL: Yes, absolutely. Nexia’s value proposition to the consumer is we allow them to pick the brands and the products that they want in their home and then bring them all together into one single app. We support 10 different connectivity protocols and get them all to interoperate together. The real value with Nexia is not as much when you’re in the home, but more so when you’re either entering or exiting, or when you’re gone.

George Land
George Land, General Manager of Nexia, Ingersoll Rand

TW: How would a homeowner use your system to improve their energy efficiency?

GL: They can see their run time versus outdoor weather conditions, and get proactive alerts from us when something is not right. Things like shutting down the system when a window is open for too long. If the customer has the system set back say five degrees while they’re at work, and then they bring it back, and we can see that the recovery rate is extremely slow, then we can alert the dealer that they’re recovering. We can look at recovery rates and proactively alert to a system that’s underperforming before the customer is really impacted either from a comfort or from an excess energy standpoint.

TW: Has Trane added sensors and diagnostics to HVAC systems that contractors can use to interpret or modify the system?

GL: As contractors find it harder and harder to find qualified help, there’s value that we can add to help centralize some of that diagnostic capability in the Nexia servers, so that then they don’t have to have as many high-level techs. They can supplement their staff with lower-level techs and have the higher levels doing the more sophisticated diagnostics and lower-level executing. We already know what the problem is. If you have a bad igniter, go change the igniter.

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Get more information on Nexia.

TW: Where do you see the primary incentive/value proposition for owners of existing homes?

GL: Peace of mind is much more important to consumers than energy savings. It’s assuring that my system is running efficiently and that I’m going to be comfortable, my guests are going to be comfortable, my kids are going to be okay when they get home, and that when I’m away everything’s fine. Really, it’s delivering that peace of mind that you don’t have to worry; we’ve got an eye on things for you. That’s really where the biggest value resonates.

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