Austin’s Curb Monitors Energy Use, Aims to Be the Smart Home’s Brain

There’s a lot of talk about smart homes, but Erik Norwood, founder of Curb, says our residences are a long way from true intelligence.

Look, for example, at our cars, “which are packed full of technology,” he says. Warning lights remind us to put on seat belts, check engine fluids, or if our gas tanks are low—helping us to avoid problems before they happen.

“None of that information is around to make homeownership better,” he says. “Bills are backwards looking. The only way to find out if your AC breaks is if you get hot air pumped into your house.”

Curb has a device that when hooked up to a home’s circuit breaker box—“the nervous system of the house,” Norwood says—it can tell homeowners which appliance is requiring the most energy. “It’s like a brain that allows you to make decisions on where you’re potentially leaking energy,” he adds.

The Austin, TX-based startup says its software uses algorithms to analyze the “electrical signature” of each home appliance and then calculates how much energy is used by those appliances. The monitor can detect when devices are turned on and off and when equipment starts to fail, Norwood says.

The upshot is a homeowner would be able to track in real-time energy hogs, and mitigate for that, as well as discovering which devices are on the verge of breaking down, saving money on electricity bills and purchasing new appliances.

Neelan Choksi, president and chief operating officer at Tasktop Technologies, is a mentor at Capital Factory, where he met Curb’s founders. The home is, for most of us, our biggest investment, he says. Yet, it doesn’t do a good job of leveraging technology to run more efficiently. Curb helps to change that, he adds.

“The visibility you get can almost be addictive, say, ‘let me turn up my AC three degrees and turn on two fans and … Next Page »

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Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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