Automations to Green Your Home

There’s a lot of talk about energy efficiency when it comes to green homes. Currently, there are many innovations available to make energy efficiency easier, controlled, or managed. Today, we’re going to be looking at ways to gain efficiency through automation with energy control systems, smart appliances, and renewables. 

Energy control systems

Thermostats can be part of an energy control system. Right now, there are controllable thermostats available that you can put in place yourself, to replace your current one. These are linked to the wifi in your house and you can control them from anywhere in the world, using your phone. 

There are also more advanced systems available, where you can control everything else in your house as well. With that kind of system, you can set your house up with certain parameters that relate to the scenario that will best suit your lifestyle. 

Aspects of energy control

Get-up mode can:

    Turn on the lights. 

    Adjust your thermostat.

    Automate your coffee pot.

    Turn on your music or TV.

    Open your automated blinds. (It’s easy to set your system up so that you can benefit from some “daylight harvesting” by using sensors to turn the lights on when they are needed.)

Customizing your controls  

The settings for get-up mode could work either on a timer, with sensors, or with both. 

You can also control the lights in your home by selecting a customized profile to give you the amount of light that would best meet your needs. This will save you from having to use energy that you do not need.

Customizing your controls will make you happy

If you can turn something on and off, you can control it. 

You can create a customized experience that will increase your happiness and your satisfaction with your home. You can control your music and TVs for your entertainment, and use these things only when you need them.

You can enjoy some psychological and emotional benefits while you are saving energy and money on the cost of your utilities. So, you can make your home your happy place!

Energy efficiency is not about having less

Energy efficiency does not have to be about having less. It can be about having what you want when you want it, (or need it) and not having it when you don’t need it. So you’re not wasting anything if you’re being smart about how you’re using things.

Saving energy can be very simple

An energy control system can be anything from a simple DIY system up to a very elaborate, very elegantly programmed system. There is something available for everybody, and every budget.

More and more innovative energy-saving technology is becoming available

The whole world is moving towards everything being controlled by apps.

A lot of new energy-saving technology is showing up at building-industry and consumer electronics trade shows.

A big benefit of energy control systems

Energy control systems are part of a bigger system that can control all kinds of things in your home. One of the big benefits of energy control systems is that they could help us to overcome what we may lack in our behavior, and control it through technology and automation.

You may not be able to control the people in the house, but you can control how they use the house.

Starting with the simple things

You can start with something simple like a programmable, or wifi-enabled thermostat. Or with a motion detector sensor on your light switch, which you can insert in your existing switch plate, to turn the lights on and off. You can also install a dimmer switch for your lights. This can then be tied into your overall energy control system, to control a bigger scenario-based system.

Bathrooms are a great place to add motion detector sensors to the light switches. 

Most basic ceiling fans can be controlled with a smart switch.

Smart appliances and the internet of things

The theory behind the internet of things is quite fascinating. You need to think of your entire house as a living, breathing, technological ecosystem, where everything in it, like your refrigerator, your stove, even your car, is tied to the internet of things. These appliances can then communicate directly with the manufacturers and let them know if there are any problems. This can allow for hassle-free maintenance of your appliances and your belongings.

This has created issues for some people because of the data collected and the lack of privacy that goes with it.

Smart appliances

Smart appliances can communicate directly with the energy utility as to when energy rates are the lowest. They can then be scheduled to run during the times that the household is using the least amount of energy when the rates are lowest.

Smart refrigerators can be programmed to let you know when you’re running out of things.

Smart appliances are wifi enabled and they allow you to get things ready automatically, from your phone.

Apart from saving energy, smart appliances could even extend to convenience and safety features in the house. 

Different kinds of systems

There are different kinds of systems, both simple and advanced, for controlling your energy usage. There are:

    Cloud-based systems

    Programmed systems

With the advanced, higher-end systems, if you can write something down in a sentence, you can make the system do it.

The International Builders Show

At The International Builders Show, the vendors will be showing all the new and innovative products. 

Tying renewables into an energy control system

Most people are familiar with renewable energy obtained from either solar panels (photovoltaics) or the wind. Wind-generated energy is typically found on a utility-scale, as in large farms and ranches, or places that have enough space to put up a lot of huge wind turbines.

Solar

Utilizing solar energy has become very popular lately, as it has become a lot more affordable and accessible. 

The issue with solar energy has always been around its storage in the house. This used to require large banks of batteries. Recently, however, Tesla has been bringing out batteries that can store three days’ worth of energy. Their goal is to create batteries that can store enough energy to last a whole week.

The reality of storing solar energy is that the excess energy gathered during the day usually gets fed back to the utility company, rather than being stored in batteries to be used at night. The rub is that, in certain states, the cost of the energy that’s fed back into the grid is calculated at cost, and yet for the energy that is being used at night, the consumer is paying the retail price. That’s just not fair, is it?

Innovations from Tesla

Tesla has announced that it has developed a new kind of roof tile that could be a game-changer. These roof tiles come in four different styles, to fit in with different styles of architecture, and because they are tiles, they could be acceptable in some places where solar panels are not. 

These roof tiles are reported to be very durable, and they are supposed to last twice as long as a typical roof, but time will tell how long they last. 

These solar roof tiles are packaged with a battery. 

Tying a renewable energy system in with an energy control system

A renewable energy system can be tied in with an energy control system. This means that you can manage both where the energy is coming from, and where it’s going to.

You can set the priorities on different systems and appliances in your home so that the power from your solar system will go first to your priority items. And with the more advanced systems, you can:

1) See exactly what you are producing from your renewables.

2) See exactly how much energy you are using, and for what.

There are also many other renewable energy sources available for heating, hot water heating, and many other uses. These will be covered in a later podcast.

Innovation is not going to stop. It just keeps coming! And it’s always changing.

Resources

Shopping for Smart Thermostats, This Old House

Nest Thermostat

Internet of Things

Smart Appliances

Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla PowerWall (battery)

For more information about green homes and green living, check out www.GreenHomeCoach.com.

Every week on iTunes and The Everyday Green Home Podcast, get the gab with us as we share what we’ve done, as well as tips for greening up your home, your job, your family and your life! Get in on the gab for why green matters – to you, your family and friends and your community.

For more information about the show email us at:  Marla at marla@thegreenhomecoach.com or Tony at tpratte@thesoundroom.com.

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