This post was written for SafeWise by Bryn Huntpalmer from Modernize.com.
The idea of networking dozens of appliances in the home to serve our needs feels like a revolution in convenience. Often, when we think of home automation, we imagine setting the mood for a movie night with the swipe of a screen or waking up to ambient music on surround sound speakers. But as energy efficiency has become more of a priority to homeowners, the more practical side of home automation has emerged. Now you can program your energy-consuming devices to reduce the load on your utility bills, while reducing your home’s negative environmental impact.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling accounts for about 48 percent of total energy use in the average U.S home. Without a way to program your thermostat before you leave or control it while you’re gone, your HVAC system is working overtime to make an empty home comfortable and costing you more money. In fact, if you set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees throughout a full working day in the winter, you can save 5 to 15 percent of yearly energy costs. You can also save in summer by setting the thermostat at a higher temperature. If you have a manual thermostat, this means coming home to a stuffy or ice-cold house after a long day at work. A programmable thermostat follows a certain schedule, but may not meet your demands on an unpredictable day.
This is where a smart thermostat comes in. Think something like Nest (Amazon), or Lyric (Amazon). With this technology, you can control the heating and cooling actions of your HVAC system remotely. It will also adapt to your habits and show you how efficient your heating and cooling system is.
With home automation, you can also adjust your blinds and shades to either help warm your house with sunlight during the winter months, or block out the light in summer to help your air conditioning efforts go a little further.
You can customize your home automation system to make it as elaborate or as simple as you prefer. But one of the most practical elements of a smart home is lighting control. Integrating lighting into your system will allow you to program your lights according or your schedule and needs as well as adjust them through your app or smartphone. With a product like GE Link (Amazon), instead of leaving lights on all day for a pet or for security reasons, you can arrange for them to turn on just before sunset. For optimum energy savings, use Energy Star-Certified lighting products, as these meet certain efficiency criteria and will help your home automation system save you money.
A little leak may not sound like a big problem, but it can damage your walls, floors and fixtures, cause mold to grow in your house, and waste your money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 10 percent of U.S. homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. By fixing a leak, you can end up saving 10 percent on your water bill. Thankfully, there are home automation devices that monitor your system for leaks and even shut off your water if a potentially destructive leak is detected.
Home Automation Costs
Your IoT (internet of things) could cost a pretty penny, or it can be entirely reasonable, depending on how intricate a network you desire. Thankfully, the products that save energy are some of the most reasonable. You may need to invest a few hundred dollars up front, but your energy savings over the next few years will easily recoup the cost of installing smart home products.