Vibrant, balanced ecosystems are an essential requirement for the survival of humans, animals and other organisms. In the twenty-first century, some companies have abandoned traditional, environmentally detrimental practices in search of a more sustainable approach to doing business. Some of the companies who pay lip-service to sustainability take a broad and abstract approach, intended to minimize the impact on the business’s bottom line. This characterization could not be further from the truth for Schneider Electric.
Founded in 1836, Schneider Electric provides energy and automation in homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and more, with a focus on efficiency and sustainability. With revenues of EUR 25.2 billion in 2020, an employee base of more than 130,000 people and 20,000 patents, the company is a heavyweight in the market. The company’s recent focus (some might say obsession) with the smart home and its sustainability benefits, stands out for its simplicity, timeliness and long-term impact. Schneider Electric maintains its U.S. headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.
What’s driving the push to sustainability in the home?
Legacy homes are ripe for a sustainability makeover. Schneider recognizes the potential costs consumers face if they fail to retrofit their older residences for the twenty-first century. According to the company’s data, U.S. and European households have suffered more than $4.2 billion in property damages due to faulty electrical wiring over the past year. Residential customers are absorbing massive electricity bill increases in their homes. The recent pandemic will likely result in more than 50% of employees maintaining their work-from-home status for the foreseeable future. Layered on top of these dynamics is the fact that, according to AARP, 75% of adults wish to age at home.
Several market drivers are spurring the race to more energy-efficient and sustainable homes, aside from growing public consensus around climate change and the other environmental challenges facing the globe. For example, California-based power outages have become commonplace (more than 28 million people were impacted in 2019). California also has the fourth highest average electricity rate in the country (up 7% over 2020). What’s more, California recently passed Title 24, which mandates aggressive requirements for energy conservation, green design, construction and maintenance, fire and life safety and accessibility in all new homes and buildings.
New Schneider home sustainability solutions could be game changing
Schneider’s Square D Energy Center is essentially a “grid-to-plug” solution in the home for backup power, battery storage and solar, designed to address this new energy landscape. Essentially a makeover of the traditional electrical panel, the Square D Energy Center provides a variety of smart home technologies, such as whole-home surge protection, EV connectivity, a Qwik-Connect solar inverter and backup panels. This approach gives consumers a digital foundation for whole-home surge protection, access to your home’s solar energy when you need it most and actionable data. The latter is significant as the product provides you with the data-based ability to understand how much energy each appliance uses in real-time in your home.
Externally, the Square D Energy Center looks very similar to the traditional electrical panel installed in a garage or basement. But when coupled with Schneider’s expansive family of -in-home relays, connected wiring devices and Wiser Energy power monitor, consumers gain real-time energy monitoring that saves money. The Wiser Energy System includes Sense, an easy-to-use smartphone app that provides real-time energy usage information, as well as notifications when devices or appliances are turned on or off. The potential benefits of this solution are numerous, from spotting inefficiencies that cause a bill increase to encouraging customers to take advantage of less expensive, off-peak energy.
As more homes in the future will derive power from multiple sources (including solar, generators, and even battery storage), backup power will be even more critical. The Square D Energy Center excels in this regard. It eliminates the need for a sub-panel and rewiring as it intelligently reassigns loads to backup sources during critical periods.
Recognizing the considerable opportunity for new smart wiring devices (estimated to be in the billions) in both new construction and upgraded residences, Schneider recently announced the X and XD Series, targeted at homebuilders, consumers, electrical contractors, channel partners, and even interior designers. The X Series has a traditional look and feel and seeks to provide an affordable option for replacing today’s wiring devices. For homeowners looking for a more premium range of wiring devices, the XD Series offers a modern “screwless” wall plate design that mounts easily on X Series switches and receptacles. As Schneider is already the second-largest manufacturer of wiring devices globally, the company is well-positioned to introduce this new family of Square D wiring devices in the North American market over the course of 2021.
Schneider has started already rolling out smart products in Florida and the rest of the Sunbelt region, with broader distribution on the West Coast, Southeast, and the rest of the United States throughout the summer.
Some closing comments
Even before the pandemic, homeowners’ interest in residential sustainability was ratcheting up. Western Europe has, in particular, has moved in that direction. Here in the U.S., government regulation at both the federal and state levels is also encouraging homeowners to upgrade their residences sustainably. Most new homes in the United States, either under construction or about to be built, incorporate sustainability into their overall design.
As evidenced by these new product releases, Schneider Electric is vigorously embracing the smart home as a vehicle to achieve tangible sustainability and energy efficiency benefits. The company’s long brand heritage in the electrical device market (especially with builders and contractors) gives its helpful credibility.
While we’re a long way from intelligent, sustainable homes becoming the rule rather than the exception, Schneider Electric is showing authentic, proactive leadership in this space. The cost delta between a legacy and sustainable home is shrinking, eliminating one of the fundamental stumbling blocks for most consumers. Schneider is playing a chief role in the worldwide transition to more smart, sustainable homes, with its affordable, aesthetically pleasing products. It’s about time.