The future we once envisioned is now becoming a reality. Automation is a part of our daily lives and homes today. We now have the power to control almost everything from our smartphones – from home security systems to entertainment like music and movies. Voice assistants, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, are making these tasks even more effortless.
But did you know that the addition of smart home devices can make your home more energy-efficient and help you save loads of money over time?
For most people, the electric bill, which covers the electricity used to light your home and run your appliances, makes up more than half of monthly utility costs. If you're looking for a way to cut down on your utility bill, finding ways to save on electricity is a good—and easy—place to start.
How To Lower Your Electric Bill
To develop the most effective plan, it must first be determined what areas in the house are using excess energy. To accomplish this, an inspection of the home is necessary. When checking the house for areas of energy loss, start by closing off all windows, doors or anything that leads outside of the home. Shut off water heaters and gas appliances, and then turn on the exhaust fans and floor and window fans. To test for drafts, a person may use a dampened hand, a lit incense stick or a lit candle. In each room, hold the damp hand, candle or incense up to cracks, baseboards, outlets, attic hatches, doors, windows, and room corners. If there is a draft, it will make a damp hand feel cold. When using incense or a candle, a current will cause the smoke to move. Once these draft areas have been identified, create a list of which sites are the most inefficient and the most costly in terms of energy lost. To make energy improvements, start at the top of the list and work down.
Improve Heating Efficiency
Thirty-eight per cent of the energy used yearly in most homes comes from heating. By taking the proper steps, this can be significantly lowered. In every home, energy-saving during colder months begins with setting the home’s thermostat. When the home is occupied, the thermostat should be kept at sixty-eight degrees during the day. When the home is unoccupied, during the day or at night, setting the thermostat to sixty is advised. A majority of energy-saving experts recommend the use of a programmable thermostat that can make these changes automatically. When heaters are being run, monthly air filter replacement can help the heating system work more efficiently. People can naturally warm up a room by opening curtains on sunny days, even if it is cold outside; however, curtains should be drawn again during the night. Other common tips for heating efficiency include sealing heating ducts with metal-backed tape or mastic for up to twenty per cent improvement in energy efficiency.
Hot water is one of the top three energy hogs in a home, just behind heating and cooling. The cost associated with hot water use may also be lowered by making a few simple changes. Leaks can be costly and need to be repaired as soon as possible. A new water heater is typically necessary if the old heater leaks. When replacing the old water heater, buy one that is an Energy Star energy-efficient heater. People will want to adjust the temperature of their water heater so that it is not overly hot. Generally, the temperature should be adjusted to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. A person can further conserve their hot water by using warm or cold water to wash clothing and an insulation jacket around the heater. Wrapping the heater helps it to stay warmer and reduces the loss of water and energy when the heater is on standby.
Buy Energy Star Labeled Products
Its purpose is to provide a simple way for consumers to identify energy-efficient products. They do this by qualifying certain products as energy-efficient. A product labelled Energy Star rated can help consumers use as much as ten to fifty per cent less energy than products that are not Energy Star qualified. Whenever having to replace old products in the home, check for Energy Star qualified replacements.
Properly Use Appliances
At any given time, one or more appliances are running in most homes. Although most machines are necessary and many cannot be turned off, they can be used efficiently. Set temperatures to between thirty-five and forty degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerators and at zero degrees for freezers. Keep the doors for both types of appliances closed as much as possible and regularly clean the coils beneath and behind them. When it comes to ovens and stoves, replace gas stoves with those that use automatic electric ignitions. If this is not an option, adjust the flame to blue instead of yellow. Whenever possible, avoid using ovens in favour of microwaves or small toaster ovens. Dishwashers should only be run when complete and air-dried when clean. When computers are idle, they should be shut down. Small appliances and consumer electronics, such as coffee makers and DVD players, should be unplugged to prevent phantom power loss.
Lighting accounts for eighteen per cent of the electricity that is used in the U.S. When it comes to electricity use in homes and commercial buildings, lighting accounts for twenty-one per cent of the electricity used. To improve energy efficiency in this area, people should always turn out lights in rooms where they are not needed, including outdoor lighting. Replace any incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs use roughly two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. Outdoor lighting also presents a problem in terms of excessive use because it is often left on throughout the night and may stay on throughout the day. Sensor activated or sensor timed lights prevent this by turning on only at a specific time or whenever there is movement. Holidays are also a time when lights are overused. During the holidays, use LED lights around the home.
Caulking is an inexpensive fix that can repair small leaks from cracks or other openings, particularly around windows and doors. It helps keep both heating and cooling costs down. To effectively caulk up trouble areas, first clean and then remove any old paint or caulk. The caulk comes in a gun-like apparatus that must be held at a forty-five-degree angle during the application process. Squeezing the trigger forces the caulk out in a continuous stream along the bottom of the clean, dry crack or opening. When finished with a spot, the trigger is released, and the gun moved away. Excess calk should be wiped clean with a damp rag before it dries and hardens. After twenty-four hours have passed, check the caulk to see if it has dried, and reapply if there is any shrinkage.
To cool down the home more efficiently, there are specific steps that people should follow. Keep the house cooler during the day by closing windows, drapes and blinds to prevent the sun’s heat from entering the home. Windows that face the west should be shaded either by window shades or outdoor shade trees. Shade trees should also be planted on the southernmost side of the home. In the evenings, open the windows, curtains and blinds to let in the cooler outside air. Running whole house fans at night can also help draw in the outside air. Whenever possible, avoid turning on the air conditioning. When the air conditioning is on, it should be set no lower than seventy-eight degrees.
Incorporate Sun-tempered Superinsulated Home Features
A sun-tempered superinsulated home (SLS) is a home that is superinsulated to improve its thermal efficiency. It also incorporates passive solar power. People may include some of the SLS home concepts into their own homes to improve energy efficiency. To mimic SLS homes, set up high activity rooms, patios, and decks to be oriented toward the south. Insulation should be increased throughout the home, including walls and ceilings. Window treatments should be energy efficient. Homeowners should also create an air barrier to prevent air infiltration and keep moisture out of wall cavities. This is done by applying a waterproof membrane. In SLS homes, drywall is used in what is called an air-tight drywall approach.
Make Daily Tasks Simple With Smart Appliances.
What if your daily household chores didn’t have to be so time-consuming? Smart appliances give homeowners the option to simplify their day-to-day life while saving a bit of energy.
For example, smart dishwashers bring enhanced features to your standard dishwasher, including Wi-Fi connectivity and flexibility options such as voice controls. You also have the chance to start wash cycles from your smartphone and monitor the performance. Alerts will be sent to your phone when a wash is finished or if there is a malfunction.
Smart microwaves can do more than reheat your leftovers. Just as with dishwashers, you can control the microwave from your smartphone and receive alerts when your food is ready. To save some time, you can scan the barcode on packaged food to download the proper cooking instructions for the particular product.
Finally, smart washers and dryers make laundry day simple by giving you more control over your laundry cycles. Like the other appliances, you can get alerts on your smartphone about the cycle's progress. These machines can also monitor your energy use and run during off-peak hours to save on utility bills.
It’s not quite The Jetsons, but smart home technology has improved rapidly in the past few years. Use these five tips to simplify your day-to-day life, save on energy and perhaps save a bit of money too.
Energy-Saving Strategies For Smart Homes
Our lifestyle habits don’t help: leaving lights on when we leave rooms, forgetting to turn off televisions or computers when not in use, and running appliances when it’s more expensive all result in wasted energy and higher costs.
Changing these habits can help save energy, but that’s easier said than done. Fortunately, many homeowners are turning to smart technology to save energy. Here’s how you can do the same.
How Smart Homes Can Help You Save
Smart technology allows homeowners to take control of their energy usage through a variety of smart-home energy-saving strategies. Smart-home hubs can turn appliances off when not in use, eliminating the energy drain caused by “idling” appliances and improving energy conservation.
The DoE reports that, despite being 30 per cent larger, homes built after 2000 only use 2 percent more energy than older homes. In large part, this is because newer homes are more likely to be made with smart-home energy efficiency in mind, including smart-home hubs and appliances.
For smart homes, new energy-saving technology is typically controlled via smartphone apps, so you can turn devices on and off even when you’re out of the house.
These technological advances allow homeowners to implement new strategies for lowering both their home’s energy use and their utility bills.
What Are The Best Smart-home Energy-saving Strategies?
Home automation allows homeowners to control their appliances through smartphone apps, creating many new ways to save energy. Here are some of the best energy-saving strategies for smart homes that you can use today.
Simplify Your Day By Setting Smart-assistant Routines.
Choosing Google Assistant or Alexa smart-home assistants allow you to create daily smart-home routines, scheduling when appliances turn on and off.
For instance, you could set smart kitchen appliances such as dishwashers to run while you’re out of the house, or you might schedule your coffee machine to turn on and off at the same time every morning.
Such routines mean you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn off appliances when they’re not in use and improve smart-home energy-efficiency
Operate Your Appliances During Off-peak Times To Save On Energy.
Dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers often run simultaneously in multiple households across an electrical grid, creating peak demands for energy at certain times of the day.
Homeowners can reduce energy use by creating smart routines for washers, dryers and other appliances, scheduling appliances to run at times of day when energy demand is low.
Use Automatic Power-downs To Stop Appliances From Wasting Energy.
Many appliances consume energy even when not actively in use. Gaming consoles, standby coffee makers, cable or satellite boxes and any device operated by remote control consume power when not in use.
Using automatic power-down modes prevents inactive appliances and devices from draining energy.
Smart devices in your home that may include automatic power-down modes include:
- Space heaters. Space heaters operate at an average of 750 to 1500 watts. Improve your smart-home energy savings by scheduling timers to power down heaters automatically.
- Air conditioners. Air conditioning accounts for 17 per cent of the average home’s energy consumption, and most air conditioners run more than they should. Reduce your heating and cooling costs by linking your air conditioner to a smart thermometer for maintaining your ideal home temperature.
- Lighting. Lighting consumes 10 per cent of a home’s energy. Switching to energy-efficient bulbs only costs you 11 cents per kWh to run, but even LED light benefits can waste energy if left on. Using motion detectors and timers to turn off lighting are two of the most straightforward energy-saving strategies for smart homes.
- Clothes washers and dryers. New energy-saving technology for homes allows you to control when appliances operate so that you can schedule them to run when energy demands are low.
- Cooking appliances. Even when kitchen appliances are not in active use, the displays on microwaves, ovens and refrigerators remain on and consume power. Smart tech can send machines into power-saving modes, turning off shows when a device or appliance is not in use.
- TVs, computers and gaming consoles. Leaving computers, televisions and gaming consoles on when not in use wastes energy—energy a smart assistant can save by triggering automatic power downs.
- Dehumidifiers and humidifiers. Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are often left to run all the time. Using smart assistants to turn off such devices when no one is home provides smart-home energy savings while keeping the house at a comfortable humidity level.
Consider Upgrading To Energy-efficient Appliances For More Energy Savings.
To truly take advantage of smart-home energy savings, it may be necessary to invest in new energy-saving technology for homes. Replace old, energy-guzzling appliances with newer, more efficient models such as these:
- Smart refrigerators. Energy-efficient refrigerators save energy by analyzing internal temperatures and adjusting the thermostat accordingly. In addition, smart fridges make your life easier by scanning fridge contents and automatically ordering food when supplies run low.
- Smart dishwashers. Smart dishwashers can be controlled from smartphone apps and scheduled to run at specific times. Newer-model dishwashers also detect leaks and dry dishes much more efficiently with lower energy requirements.
- Smart ovens. With flexible features and built-in Wi-Fi technology, the newest smart ovens make cooking fast and efficient. A smart range can even notify you when dinner is ready to serve.
- Smart air conditioners. Home connectivity makes it possible for you to control your smart air conditioner by app or voice command, and you can set the air conditioner to turn on before you arrive home.
- Sprinkler controllers. Smart sprinkler systems may not save much energy, but they can dramatically reduce your water bill. Sprinklers can be controlled from anywhere using smartphone apps, and they can be scheduled to operate at times that maximize water conservation, such as at night or in the early morning.
As homes trend towards interconnectivity and the Internet of Things, more devices and electrical products are becoming smart.