Article by Saharnaz Mirzazad
What You Should Know About Home Automation Technology
Home automation technology refers to a remote-controlled network that can connect lights, appliances, electrical outlets, heating/cooling systems, and shades. Home automation provides a wide variety of potential benefits, including:
- Energy efficiency: Reduce your environmental footprint and lower energy bills.
- Increased convenience: Keep your home in its most comfortable state without having to think about it. System can learn from you and use pre-programmed settings to save you time and effort.
- Safety: Have you ever worried whether you turned off your oven before leaving the house? Automated systems enable you to control your home appliances remotely.
Energy and Water Savings
Home automation has revolutionized energy and water conservation in buildings. New technologies can take conservation principles one step further by offering self-programming, remote access, and real-time data tracking features. For example, if you usually turn down your thermostat before going to bed, a smart thermostat can learn your preferences and program itself to follow them automatically. A smart thermostat can even use your phone to track when you leave home and turn off the system when you’re away, saving you energy and money. The remote access features allow you to turn your home appliances, lighting, and heating/cooling systems on and off as needed. In addition, this technology collects real-time energy and water use data to help you understand and manage your cost. This is important in helping you and other Southern California Edison residential customers transition to Time of Use (TOU) rates next year (see our next newsletter).
Space heating and cooling are the largest energy users in residential buildings, but home automation can reduce unnecessary heating and cooling. According to a survey conducted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate and CNET, 45% of Americans who use home automation technology average over $1,100 savings annually.
The energy saving potential varies by technology which include smart thermostats, lighting controls, smart shades, usage data analytics and smart irrigation systems.
Smart thermostats (cost $50-$500):
Internet-connected thermostats save energy by reducing heating, ventilation and air conditioning run time using control techniques that are more sophisticated than the manual and programmable thermostats commonly used in U.S. households. Smart thermostats are able to optimize temperature settings and energy usage based on the weather and the household’s current occupancy. One of the most widely used smart thermostats, demonstrated 10-12% energy savings from heating and 15% savings in cooling in homes with central air conditioning (Nest Lab).
Lighting controls (cost $1.15-$4 per square foot):
Recent advances have moved lighting control beyond the conventional infrared motion sensing, manual dimming, and timer switches. Newer technology includes networked LED lights that “talk” to each other and are equipped with advanced photosensors and controls that adjust light brightness continuously according to current indoor ambient light levels. These advanced lighting technologies have the capability of 44% energy savings with a payback of less than five years.
Smart shades (cost $15-$61 per square foot):
The California Energy Commission estimates that about 40% of a typical California building’s cooling requirements are due to sunlight coming through windows. Smart shades can automatically control the amount of light and heat entering a building, using sensors to measure indoor and outdoor temperatures and the sun’s position and radiation. These systems can save up to 43% of the energy spent on indoor heating and cooling.
Energy and water analytical systems (cost varies based on function):
Energy analytical systems can reduce a building’s overall energy use by 5-10%. These devices usually plug into a breaker panel and provide real-time data on energy consumption through a mobile app or website. The homeowner can see when and where their energy is going and take actions to reduce use or increase efficiency. These kinds of tools are commonly included when homeowners go solar.
Smart sprinklers (cost $50-$250):
Smart sprinklers use the weather forecast and sensors to detect soil moisture and calculate the amount of water needed for each planting zone in your backyard. Some smart sprinkler systems have reduced household water usage by 40-70%. Currently, some of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) providers in Thousand Oaks are providing smart sprinklers to their customers.
Free Home Automation System Opportunity
California Energy Commission has provided a grant to Universal Devices to conduct a study on the impact of home automation systems on energy use. As a result, the company is able to offer FREE devices in exchange for you sharing your energy use data. If you are a local SCE customer interested in taking part in this study and receiving free devices including a smart home controller, smart thermostat, pool controller, and motion, temperature, humidity and lighting sensors, contact the company representative: Orly Hasidim; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 818.489.7672
Click here more information on Energy programs on the City’s website.
Pie Chart is obtained from The National Academy of Sciences, 2017
Chart shows the typical breakdown of energy use in homes across the U.S.
Photo Credit: NXP
A smart lighting network can be controlled through a phone app
Other credits: Energy saving potentials and costs are obtained from King, J., & Perry, C. (2017). Smart Buildings: Using Smart Technology to Save Energy in Existing Buildings. Washington DC: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.