Getting things under control
Smart Homes and Wi-Fi-connected devices have brought us a number of benefits. A fully connected house can be controlled from a smart phone, and personally, I love the ambiance of my Philips Hue lights. As homeowners, renters, or landlords, controlling energy costs is a big focus.
Does having a lot of connected devices draw more energy? Are we making our carbon foot print worse? Perhaps surprisingly, a lot of research suggest that smart homes and connected devices can do a lot to make us MORE efficient.
Almost everything can be “Smart” nowadays – thermostats, water heaters, meters, plugs, lighting, irrigation, ovens, even crock pots (for us geeky lazy chefs). The “Internet of Things” that we create in our home is constantly growing. There are a couple of cool ways that smart devices can impact our power bill:
You hold all of the power
Smart thermostats, for one, (like Nest) are helpful for a number of reasons.
Routines are one way – by automating a routine where we aren’t cooling a house that we aren’t even in. You can also change the temperature if you forget to set it before you leave for work (just pull over if you do – no home automation and driving). Lastly, you can learn a lot from analytics that show you your usage and how often your system kicks on.
Although it should be noted that a house without good airflow and ventilation won’t benefit too much, using those sweet analytics is the best way to maximize savings.
Heating and cooling costs account for 48% of the typical energy costs for a home.
I’m from Texas. So I know how important it is to stay cool.
Convenience makes a huge deal
Smart lighting is often brighter and more efficient (the joy of LED!), and has the ability to set lighting preferences (dim, have it adjust based on natural light, or set to schedules)which can lead to energy savings. And if you are running late (as we often are), and you happen to leave all your lights on – turning them off remotely can save energy costs.
Smart meters can tell you what in your home is using a lot energy – indicating potential issues and showing you ways to save.
Irrigation options like Cyber-Rain exist as well – with reducing the usage and waste of water by anticipating weather conditions. Although not directly related to your carbon footprint, saving water and reducing water loss is a big deal (particularly in California!).
Do your homework
That’s not to make things too rosy. A lot of smart appliances are more sugar than sustainability, but can help with other aspects of sustainability. Smart fridges for example, with remote cameras, can help reduce food waste and can ensure you don’t buy too much or forget the milk has expired.
Smart home devices can really impact our energy usage if we embrace automation and utilize analytics.
Otherwise, things like constantly playing with your lights (they change color!) or that fancy smart security system may end up just pulling more power from the grid. Like any tool in our life, there is an opportunity for the opposite effect (higher electric bills) if we don’t use the tools correctly.
Smart homes require making smart decisions. If you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint, use smart devices to correct the human error (leaving your lights on) or help you make a better decision (cooling your home when you’re actually there, etc).
Mo’ devices can mean mo’ money – but only if put yourself in the know.