2010 brought lots of changes that will give your customers (both residential and commercial) more control over how they pull energy from the power grid to heat, cool, or illuminate their business and homes — changes that could be a boon to your HVAC business.

On the commercial side, the big story is acquisitions as large companies such as Honeywell and Siemens develop startup technologies that plug into existing building management systems. A theme for the new technologies? Customer Choice. Katherine Tweed from GreenTechGrid notes:

It’s tough to write about the next wave of demand response without acknowledging that many of the refinements and expansions are about creating a more thorough and tailored offering to the customer. Don’t want to turn off your HVAC in the middle of summer for two hours? That’s not a problem. Companies are now offering programs that shave bits of load off of everything from lighting to fans, to keep business up and running smoothly.

But the past year might have also marked a fundamental shift for residential demand response. Recent products have piqued homeowners’ interest in having more control over their energy use. Take Filtrete’s Wi-Fi thermostat, which Christopher Null recently gushed about in Wired. The $100 thermostat allows homeowners to constantly tinker with their home A/C and heating settings through an iPhone app, eliminating the need to even get off the couch to adjust the temperature.

Feeling chilly but your hands are full in the kitchen? Pull out your phone and kick it up a degree. Left on vacation and forgot to turn on the lower-temp program? You can do it later from any web browser … and then turn the heat back on when you’re on the cab ride home.

Null warns that the design and user interface, especially on the iPhone app, leave something to be desired. And the actual cost savings this technology could bring to your customers is debatable — it’s easier to change the temperature with minimal effort, so homeowners might be tempted to bump up the heat a few degrees or crank the A/C — but the technology is out there, and more and more of your customers are likely to ask about it, especially if new pricing models, including time-of-use, gain momentum.