My neighbor is moving out this week, and I absolutely cannot wait. Don’t get me wrong – he is a really friendly guy, and we get along just fine. But the amount of trash this man produces is unbelievable.
See, we share the same entrance to our building, and every week I am greeted with a different foul-smelling odor as a result of his massive pileup of waste. I’m not entirely sure why anyone would insist on ordering an entire pizza and only eating 2 slices, but my neighbor does this on a regular basis.
I hate it when I see waste, and that isn’t because of some environmental ideal I’m holding onto. It’s simply because I value efficiency.
The numbers make me cringe. At two $15 pizzas a week for 52 weeks, that’s almost $1,600 a year in pizza. With only 25 percent of the slices consumed, it comes out to about $1,200 dollars spent on waste.
But I have to admit to my hypocrisy – I can be quite the wasteful person when it comes to intangible assets such as energy. For instance, the central air in my empty apartment runs near full blast for eight hours a day just so I can be immediately comfortable when I walk in the door.
Luckily, there is a solution I will soon be investing in: the self-programming, cloud-based thermostat.
If you haven’t heard of the Nest, you’re in for a bit of a treat. The Nest is a self-learning thermostat that automatically creates a temperature schedule based on user preferences and history. The Nest turns itself off when you leave and turns itself on when you are about to get home. You can even control the Nest through a mobile application via the cloud.
Most importantly, the Nest saves energy. It does this by providing detailed information on energy use and restricting airflow based on user location. The Nest saves the average home 20 percent a year in utility bills. At a cost of $250, that’s a pretty easy choice for consumers.
Nest offers an amazing product, but from a business perspective, the company is even more impressive. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is already using Nest in its retail stores, and both Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) are selling the device to their customers.
And now Nest is striking deals with a wide range of utility companies. Nest has recently partnered with National Grid (NYSE: NGG), Southern California Edison, Green Mountain Energy, and Reliant. National Grid is offering a $100 rebate for Nest users, and Reliant is giving new customers the device for free. All parties benefit because, by being connected to the grid, Nest can limit energy output during expensive peak periods.
But the intelligent thermostat doesn’t stop at the basic consumer market – commercial buildings could save thousands with this technology.
Commercial buildings in the United States consume a whopping 36 percent of U.S. electricity, much of which comes from heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC). Automated HVAC guarantees to save these buildings large sums of money, but the technology is currently still in a stage of infancy.
Commercial buildings do use occupancy sensors to determine lighting and airflow, but there is one problem: current occupancy sensors can’t count. This results in a binary method of automation that uses too much energy during periods of low occupancy. In other words, HVAC systems work just as hard with a single person in the room as they do with 100.
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But what if occupancy sensors could count? A recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) estimates that the average commercial building would save $40 thousand a year in utility costs by installing advanced occupancy sensors. These sensors could cut energy use by nearly 20 percent.
Take a look at the PNNL graph below comparing energy savings between standard occupancy sensors and advanced sensors by location. In some cases, savings increase by over 300 percent.
So here is what I suggest: take a look at Melexis (EBR: MELE), the only company recognized by PNNL to be developing these advanced occupancy sensors. So far, there is nothing on the market. But when there is, every commercial building is going to want it.
If you want to wait until advanced sensors actually hit the market, then that’s reasonable. However, Melexis has been on a consistent uptrend for a year now, and entry is going to get increasingly expensive.
Melexis has also posted consistent revenues and positive income for several years. Regardless of whether or not the company successfully develops advanced sensors, this is a safe stock.
The bottom line is Melexis is low-risk with a huge upside. You don’t find that pairing all too often.
Turning progress to profits,
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