It once seemed like something from science fiction, but home automation technology is here—and it may be the key to maximizing your home’s energy efficiency. Home automation includes any technology used to remotely control and monitor the function of your home’s systems—and can equal substantial savings when applied to energy efficiency.
Using home automation is no longer reserved for the extremely wealthy or the tech lover. A “smart home” is becoming increasingly popular because there can be big rewards for the average homeowner with relatively small efforts and investments.
So, why is home automation essential for energy efficiency and why should you bother?
Home automation gives you control.
Whether you are home or halfway across the globe, home automation can connect you to your lighting, heating and cooling, and plumbing systems. Did you walk out the door and forget to turn off the lights? Check (and turn them off!) from your computer or mobile device.
That programmable thermostat you already have? It’s actually a home automation device—but how many times do you override the program (if you actually ever programmed it) because your schedule changed? Modern home automation tools allow the simple touch of a button to tell your heating and cooling system that you are “coming home” or “leaving home,” getting your home to the ideal temperature, no matter what your schedule brings.
Not only are these easy automation tools eco-savvy, they are also very easy on the wallet, allowing you to turn off expensive home systems, such as A/C, when not in use.
Home automation does the work for you.
Life is busy. People forget. We forget things like leaving the lights on upstairs, because we were coming right back. Oops. We forget that the kids were watching television downstairs before they went outside to play. It’s okay. Motion sensors have your back. They can turn off that light or television when the room is empty and prevent wasting energy (and money).
Home automation can also free you from the “phantom load,” the energy consumption our televisions, computers, microwaves and other electronic devices have while turned off, but in stand by mode. The recommendation of energy groups that we unplug those devices when not is use is commendable. But…we forget, remember? Or maybe we can’t even reach those outlets! Smart power strips can be added to your home automation arsenal to cut power to those phantom load appliances when you turn them off.
One study revealed that phantom loads equate to 7% of the electricity used in the US. It seems this small step can equate to big savings.
Home automation saves money.
A variety of monitors are available and can provide information on the electricity usage of your entire home or an individual item. Armed with that knowledge, you can have actual data when trying to decide if you should replace that older model dishwasher, for example. Maybe it isn’t as inefficient as you thought. Or maybe, it really is the energy hog that you suspected and it’s time for it to go.
Speaking of time, those monitors can also help you select when it is best for you to run certain big usage items. If you live in an area where the electric company provides lower rates for non-peak usage, you can keep money in your pocket and improve your energy efficiency by running the dryer later in the evening.
With the touch of a button.
Unlike the home automation of systems for security or entertainment, you don’t need to schedule a lengthy consultation or install. There are companies available to complete your home automation if you desire, but DIY home automation is possible and readily available.
The costs involved in automating for energy efficiency can be tailored to your own budget. Whether you simply start with a few power strips, or purchase a DIY kit that incorporates multiple automation options, or contract with a company to completely transform into a smart home—big or small, it will all positively impact your energy efficiency.
With the touch of a button, the tools needed for maximizing your home’s energy efficiency are at your beck and call. The technology that was once a dream is ready for you to implement. You just have to determine what system offers the biggest impact for the way you live and build from there.
Where will you begin?