It might sound counterintuitive to think of technology as something that can save money on your utility costs. Technology is certainly wonderful and there are many ways to integrate it into your home for convenience and entertainment, however, it takes power to use utilities such as lighting, air conditioning, heat and more. The key to conserving energy no matter how many sub-systems you have is a home automation system. Automation not only makes life easier, it can actually save money on the myriad of costs associated with owning a home.
Automation systems can cut utility costs in several ways such as timing when lights come on and off. You can trigger specific functions with a single button press on a control device or when something specific happens, such as a door opening. For instance, when the garage door closes, lights in the house automatically turn off. Automating all your sub-systems to ensure they are only on when being used will significantly cut your utility costs, far more than you might realize. Following are the most common systems to automate; however, if it’s electrical it can be integrated.
Turn lights on and off at specific times of the day, such as sunrise and sunset. You can also have multiple timed events. For instance, your outside lights can go on and off around the movements of the sun, while your inside lights are programmed individually for different times of the day, even in specific parts of the house. Just program them to fit your habits, preventing lights from burning electricity all day and night.
The installation of motion sensors detects when someone walks in and out of a room, automatically turning on or off the lights such as in the children’s room. You can also use dimmers to save energy. Perhaps, you want the outside lights on all night but brighter in the early evening and dimmer when everyone is asleep.
Shades and blinds
Even shades and blinds can be automated, though they require some additional hardware for communicating with the automation system. You can use automated shades to drop and block out the sun during the hottest periods of the day. This lessens your need for air conditioning to cool off a room. Open the shades and allow in natural light, eliminating the need for electrical lighting or perhaps, during cooler times of year you can open the shades allowing the sun to heat a room rather than using the home’s central heating system.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Automating the home’s air and heat is critical to saving significant money on your utility bills. For instance, you can have the temperature programmed to rise or lower based on the time of day or when the house is occupied. If you still want air or heat on when you are away but not at the same settings as when you are home, it’s possible to have two sets of parameters programmed in. Also, you can have one temperature setting for when you are awake and another for when you are asleep. Even the water heater can be integrated into the automated system, cutting power and eliminating the tank from being constantly heated throughout the night.
Many components that go into a stand-by mode or chargers that stay plugged into the wall are also referred to as ‘vampire power’ because they consistently drain low levels of power all the time. Individual outlets can be turned on and off based on when they are actually being used, preventing computers, cell phone chargers and electronics that don’t power down but go into a stand-by mode from sucking energy all day and night.
Timers to turn water on and off to hydrate your grass and plants is nothing new, however, it has limitations. It only knows to start and stop the water on the days and times you designate. When you place the irrigation system into a whole-home automation system, sensors are installed to prevent the watering system from coming on during a rainstorm or when it is snowing. If you have dramatic climate changes in your area, you can program the system to accommodate the hotter and cooler times of year.
In the age of Wi-Fi and mobile devices, you can monitor and even change settings to your automated system from anywhere in the world. Most automation systems have their own smartphone and tablet apps so you may not need special equipment. If you want to make your home more energy efficient, not only to save money but to make a long term difference in the planet, speak with one of our authorized systems integrators to discuss how you can save energy in your home.