Who wouldn’t like an extra set of hands around the house? Or some help with basic everyday activities such as keeping your home comfortable? And if that extra help could also make your home more energy efficient – reducing your utility bills – wouldn’t that be an added bonus?
Home automation, once considered an elite luxury, is doing exactly those tasks for more homeowners than ever before, and in ways that may surprise you. Many homeowners recognize the importance of saving energy, something that benefits the environment and their budgets. Three key areas of home automation that influence energy savings are window coverings, thermostats and lighting.
Heating and cooling a home accounts for the largest portion of a house’s overall energy use. Artificial lighting also contributes to home energy bills. Automating these areas of the home that consume the most energy allows users to improve a home’s energy efficiency.
You may think of your window treatments as more of a design statement than an energy-efficiency, but window coverings – from blinds to shades – can help control the flow of sunlight into your home. In summer, drawing the blinds can help keep the interior of your home cooler. Opening window coverings when it’s cold outside in the winter can allow more warming sunlight to enter your home.
By automating your window coverings, you can better control the amount of light – and heat – entering your home, even when you’re not there. You can program an automation system to close window coverings after everyone has left the house for the day to help keep things cooler in the summer. Or, in the winter, when many of us leave the house before the sun is up, an automation system can open window coverings to allow sunlight and warmth into the home after the sun rises.
Turning your thermostat back between 10 percent to 15 percent for eight hours a day can save you as much as 10 percent on your heating and cooling bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, EnergySavers.gov. Programmable thermostats allow you to automate temperature changes in your home.
In summer months, you can set the thermostat to allow the temperature in your home to rise higher so the air conditioning runs less when no one is there. The same technique can help reduce heating bills in the winter. By setting a programmable thermostat to change temperatures when needed, you can achieve more precise control over the temperature in your home – without the risk of forgetting to set the thermostat back yourself every time you leave the house.
Artificial light is another major energy-user in American households. Reducing electric usage can be as simple as turning off lights behind you when you leave a room. But how often have you come home from work, only to discover that the front porch light was on all day, or that someone forgot to turn off the bathroom light before leaving the house?
Automating light functions can ensure that lights don’t stay on, consuming power, when no one is around to need them. And automation can also make your home safer by turning on lights in the evening so you’re not walking into a dark house.
The Energy Triangle
The term “energy triangle” refers to heating/cooling, artificial and natural light and how the three can best work together to keep your home’s interior comfortable and efficient. Home automation allows you to automate and coordinate the function of your home’s thermostat, lights and window coverings for optimum energy efficiency.
You can use your computer, iPad or iPhone to access the system remotely and adjust the temperature inside the house, turn lights on or off manually or by timer, and even raise or lower the shades throughout the house. The home automation system helps ensure you pay to heat, cool and light the house only when you need to.