Whether you’re trying to preserve the environment or just save a few bucks on your monthly energy bill, nearly every homeowner is looking for ways to better conserve energy these days. Solar energy is on the verge of an explosion of adoption. And wind turbines are becoming more affordable (and portable) than ever before. Unfortunately for me, renewable energy is still an unaffordable luxury, though. Solar is still too expensive, and my area of Alabama doesn’t get much in the way of reliable winds (except during severe).
So, what’s a conservation-loving technology geek to do? Control4 has some ideas. A recent post on the company’s blog revolves around a nifty infographic that spotlights 10 ways to lower your impact on the environment (or lighten the load your wallet, if that’s how to you’d rather look at it.
Here are a few of my favorites from the list:
1. Use a Control4 programmable thermostat to implement temperature set-back:
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Control4-brand thermostat. I use an ecobee Smart Thermostat in my own home, which is tied into the Control4 ecosystem via a driver fromTheDriversLab. Control4 also includes first-party drivers for Carrier, Aprilaire, and VenStar thermostats, as well as HVAC controllers from Lutron.
No matter which brand you opt for, having your HVAC system tied into your home control system not only allows you to quickly and easily create more intelligent schedules for your heating and cooling, but you can also use automation to reduce the need for centralized cooling. In my own home theater system, I use Control4′s new Fan Speed Control (hidden in the attic). Since my thermostat, that ceiling fan, and all of my entertainment gear are routed through the same control hub, it was a snap for me to set up an automation routine whereby when I fire up the home theater, it checks the temperature reading of the ecobee, and if things are a little too toasty for my tastes, it turns on the ceiling fan, as well. That has allowed me to keep my thermostat set about two degrees higher than I would otherwise find bearable.
2. Reduce the maximum level on dimmable loads:
Honestly, just about nobody can tell the difference between a light at 85% brightness and full brightness. But the missus has a nasty habit of double-tapping our dimmers to bring them to full intensity. It was a really simple fix to limit that maximum intensity, and she’s none the wiser (unless she’s currently reading this, in which case I’m just joshing).
3. Use “sunset” and “sunrise” events to turn outside lights on and off:
Another one-and-done solution that really cuts down on wasted energy. And I don’t have to adjust the settings of my timers as the amount (and timing) of daylight changes throughout the year.
6. Program bathroom lights and fans to turn off after a set time delay:
Control4 actually recommends a trick here that I thought I had come up with own my own: in addition to having the bathroom fan shut off automatically to conserve electricity, that auto-shutdown is also a great reminder that it’s time to get out of the shower if I’ve been soaking too long.
9. Install motorized shades for blocking the afternoon sun:
Next on my list of upgrades. Control4 also has another nifty idea in its infographic: use temperature sensors to tell your shades when to automatically close. I had planned to use the indoor-and-outdoor temperature readings from my ecobee, but using sensors is a smart solution, since not every window in the house is receiving direct sunlight at any given time during the day.
Overall, I scored a six out of ten on Control’s list of recommendations. The thing is, I’ve already noticed a difference on my energy bills. I’m on a prorated payment plan from Alabama Power, which means I pay the same every month based on the average amount of electricity I use throughout the year. So I pay a little more than need be in the winter, but don’t get hit with staggering bills in the summer. At any rate, I recently dug back through my billing history and discovered that my bill has steadily gone down from $151/month to $127/month since installing my Control4 system and ecobee thermostat in mid-2012. That’s not too shabby for someone who only scored 60%!
Content courtesy of: Dennis Burger, Editor in Chief, HDLiving.com