The next big thing your carrier or Internet service provider might sell you in the near future isn’t a fancy smartphone or tablet, TV service, or faster wireless service – though these products are also still on the menu. Cellular service providers and ISPs will sell you the kinds of connected devices that will smarten up your home, and they’ll help you save money in the process.
I saw two such devices during a meeting at MWC 2016 and heard about at least one plan to incorporate them into a carrier’s future offers. German-based tado is partnering up with O2 to sell Smart Thermostats and Smart AC Controls to consumers looking to control home heating and cooling systems from their smartphones while also automating the systems and cutting costs in the process.
If you’ve heard about Google’s Nest, the smart thermostat that’s supposed to help you save money on your energy bill, then you can already figure out what tado’s Smart Thermostat and the Smart AC Control app can do.
Once connected to your home heating and cooling systems, the tado devices can communicate with companion apps installed on your iPhone or Android device and adjust the temperature accordingly, based on your location relative to your home. tado will use your location to figure out where you are and estimate a home arrival time when you leave. The thermostat or the AC controller will then adjust the temperature so it reaches the desired levels by the time you return.
tado will track all members of a household to ensure that the temperature reaches its goal by the time the first person gets home.
Even more interestingly, tado keeps track of the weather so that it can further adjust energy savings depending on outside temperature.
So where does your carrier come in? O2 revealed at the event that it’s starting a pilot program to offer customers this particular type of product directly. While O2 is partnering up with tado, it won’t stop customers from purchasing Nest devices if they prefer. O2 is apparently interested in expanding its portfolio of products and connected services it can sell to consumers without having to build the products themselves.
Rather than coming up with a connected thermostat of its own, O2 prefers to let tado handle that part of the business and instead focus on the customer support and user experience.
Just like Nest, the tado thermostat isn’t exactly cheap, but the company says the device can pay for itself in less than a year by saving you up to 31% on your heating bill. In Europe, the tado Smart Thermostat will cost about £199 (€249), depending on the market. A monthly rental plan is also available starting at £7.99 (€9.99). An Extension Kit required to establish a wireless connection between a heating system and a thermostat is also needed, and that costs £79 (€99) or can be rented for £2.99 (€9.99) per month.
The Smart AC Control, meanwhile, is slightly more affordable and is available for purchase in the U.S. as well. Pricing is set at £149/€179/$199. The company says this device can also pay for itself in less than a year, offering users AC savings of up to 40%.
It’s not clear at this time how O2’s involvement will affect pricing for either device if that’ll be the case, or how broad its pilot program will be once it rolls out later this year. But the partnership does sound promising, as carriers might soon be able to assist you with setting up smart Internet-connected devices designed to keep you save and save you money.