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To better understand the concept of energy saving in smart homes, one first needs to understand the notion of a smart home. So, what exactly is a smart home? How does one define a smart home?
Smart Home Definition
A convenient home setup where all the gadgets and appliances are connected and can be automatically operated and controlled remotely from anywhere with the help of a mobile phone or any networked device.
All the devices in the smart home are usually interconnected with the means of the internet. But there are other commonly used ways to connect smart devices such as Z-wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
The interconnected network of devices allows the homeowners to control various aspects of their homes such as security, lighting, temperature, home theater, entertainment, kitchen appliances, and more using voice control, remote control, smartphone, or tablet. This interconnected network also allows the devices to talk to each other which enables the owners to send a single command to control multiple devices.
A few years back, the idea of having smart homes was limited to tech-savvy people like bill gates and it’s only recently that smart homes and devices have been commercialized. The smart home and smart automation industry are maturing as more and more big tech organizations launch new products.
Smart home automation systems are convenient, cost-effective, and green. There are still reservations about smart homes being energy efficient which is what we are going to explore in this article.
Do Smart Homes Actually Save Energy?
The energy and cost savings from smart home devices actually depend on different factors like previous devices, how you used them, which smart devices you buy, and how you use them. For instance, let’s say you had an unprogrammable thermostat before investing in a smart auto-adjustable thermostat, then you will end up saving a great deal of money and energy. But if you had a programmable one that you adjusted on a regular basis, then chances are you won’t see much difference in cost and energy consumption.
In the opinion of Nick Lange, a Technical Lead for Thermostat Practice at VEIC, just because devices can talk to the internet doesn’t mean they are going to do a better job for you.
But on the plus side, there are some manufactures that are actually working on improving the technology that’ll enable the devices to manage energy use making them more green and energy-efficient.
The technology might already be there and it’s a matter of educating ourselves to use these smart home devices optimally in order to reap all the benefits. Let’s explore some energy-saving strategies for smart homes that you can deploy today and make your homes green and energy-efficient.
Energy Savings Strategies to Follow for Smart Homes
Smart-home hubs are designed to turn off appliances when they are not in use or sitting idly draining energy.
Apart from that, since smart-home appliances can be controlled using smartphones, homeowners can discover existing as well as alternative ways to save energy.
1) Use smart-assistant routines
If you have smart home devices, you must use smart-assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa. Use these smart assistants to create daily routines like setting time for dishwashers to turn on and off or your coffee machine to brew coffee at a particular time in the morning.
With these are smart-home routines in place, you won’t forget about turning off appliances that are not in use and thereby improving smart-home energy-efficiency.
2) Use appliances during off-peak times
People usually use daily home appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, etc. at the same time which creates peak demands in energy grids.
As a homeowner, you can schedule the use of appliances when the energy demand is comparatively low which will reduce energy use.
3) Automatic power-downs
Some appliances consume energy even when they are not being actively used. Appliances that can be controlled using a remote control like coffee machines, gaming consoles, cable TVs, etc. consume energy even in inactive mode. Such appliances are called energy vampires. Automatic power-downs can stop such appliances in an inactive mode from draining energy.
Pro Tip: Use an electricity calculator if you are not sure of any appliance’s energy consumption.
4) Invest in smart thermostats
HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) systems account for almost 32% of an average home’s electricity consumption. These systems consume a lot of energy when left unattended. Smart thermostats monitor your habits and weather and then adjust the heating and cooling systems which save you cost and energy consumption. A smart thermostat is one of the most important and must-have smart-home appliances.
Best Smart Home Devices to Save Energy and Cost
- Tripp Lite Surge Protector Power Strip: This power strip automatically cuts off to plugged-in devices when they are not in use. With a competitive price point, a history of good reviews, and phone and network connections, this power strip is the perfect device to fight the above-mentioned energy vampires.
- Nest Learning Thermostat: This smart thermostat learns your habits and uses the data to stop you from needlessly heating or cooling unused spaces. Matthias Alleckna, a professional energy analyst with EnergyRates.ca advises that smart thermostats can reduce your heating and cooling costs by 10%-15% by providing precise control of inside house temperatures.
- Sense Energy Saving: Using this smart energy monitor, you can stay ahead of your power bill as it allows you to set customized alerts, monitor your meter remotely, detects appliances, and also provides multi-user support.
Smart and Green Future Ahead of Us
According to the DoE report, today’s houses (built after the 2000s) despite being 30% larger consume only 2% more than the older homes. Smart home automation systems are in transitioning period where they are moving into a mature phase and the technology and devices are still evolving. Once we have advanced sensors and systems working autonomously, we will be able to save more energy.
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