Primer: Smart Home Strategies to Maximize Energy Efficiency
Whether you’re ready to invest in a system for your entire home, or want to start small by installing smart light bulbs or a smart thermostat, more and more homeowners are using automated home tech to improve their home’s energy efficiency. Here are a few strategies to get you on the road to conserving energy and saving money.
Make It Simple
Boosting energy-efficient home automation doesn’t necessarily mean messy or intrusive construction. In fact, the most basic home automation ideas for energy efficiency center on a single switch or appliance, such as a motion-sensing light that knows when a room is occupied.
If you’re looking for an easy upgrade to “dip your toe” in the smart home tech world, consider connecting smart lightbulbs to a home automation hub. This allows you to control them remotely, dimming or turning them on or off. Another simple energy-reducing addition includes plug-and-play smart energy strips. These cut power to an appliance that is plugged in but not in active use, thereby eliminating what is referred to as “phantom load” — when an appliance is on standby but still draws electricity.
One area where your home may already be using smart tech is the thermostat. Many newer thermostats are programmable and allow you to set times of day that your HVAC system heats or cools. More advanced thermostats have the ability to “learn” from your past behavior to predict or fine-tune your home’s heating and cooling needs. Some have geofencing, which means they know how close you are to home, voice control, and app options, as well.
Take Advantage of Tech
There are several off-the-shelf tech tools that help measure and monitor energy usage, and allow you to figure out exactly where that energy usage is coming from. From there, you can hone in and control specific appliances to use more energy during off-peak, less expensive times or unplug them altogether if they’re not used often.
In addition, many newer appliances are already equipped with smart options, which makes it very easy to transition to energy-saving technology. A good example is a dryer that reuses hot air or a slow cooker that allows you to control cook times remotely. Smart appliance apps can also alert you to any potentially energy-hogging issues, such as a dirty filter in the refrigerator water source.
Establish a Connection
Once you’ve researched and figured out what energy-efficient products you’d like in your home, the next step is to connect your systems for easier control. Many systems allow you to easily add on new fixtures or additional rooms. For example, there are apps available to control lights throughout your home.
Other types of automation systems don’t just control one home element, they integrate multiple elements like window treatments (open or closed based on season and time of day), thermostat, and lighting. These systems enable homeowners to program potential scenarios (such as “coming home”) and all are controlled through an app, online, or with a remote control or control panel at home.
The best part? Having a system in place can save you from your own forgetfulness, like if you go out of town and forget to close the blinds or lower the heat before you leave.