As a tech-savvy enthusiast dedicated to embracing a carbon-neutral lifestyle, I firmly believe that the true answer to lowering electricity consumption lies in home automation. Traditional methods of behavior modification and reminders to turn off lights often yield short-term results. Trying to form new energy saving habits often resembles the yo-yo dieting crazes that rarely yield lasting results to anyone’s waistline or utility bill.
In contrast, home automation offers a long-term, sustainable solution to minimize energy waste. With cutting-edge automation systems like smart thermostats and scheduled lighting protocols, we can achieve optimal comfort while significantly reducing energy consumption.
Machine Learning and Customizable Schedules:
A smart thermostat, such as the Ecobee, offers several ways to save consumers on utilities and reduce energy bills. Firstly, it allows for precise control of temperature settings. With its programmable and machine learning capabilities, the Ecobee can learn your preferences and create customized schedules, ensuring optimal comfort while minimizing energy waste.
By automatically adjusting the temperature based on occupancy patterns and learning your daily routines, the Ecobee smart thermostat can proactively optimize energy usage. It can detect when you’re away from home and adjust the temperature accordingly, saving energy when no one is present. This feature alone can significantly save heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
Additionally, the Ecobee thermostat provides customizable reminders, including filter change notifications. I love this feature! It tells me when it’s time to change our filters or, in our case, our new Ground Source Heat pump with a washable filter is due for cleaning. So, one quick rinse a month, and we are optimizing our efficiency and saving waste from going to the landfill with the traditional filters we use.
Whole Home Integration
Using smart home automation to schedule lights and smart plugs offers numerous benefits for creating a more energy-efficient household. Here’s how it can help our family save energy:
- Efficient Lighting Usage: Smart lighting systems like our lutron caseta allow us to schedule when your lights turn on and off automatically. We currently have a command for our kid’s bedroom lights to turn off at 8:30 am every day because they leave for school at 8:25 am and inevitably forget to turn them off. Setting specific times or using motion sensors ensures lights are only activated when needed, preventing unnecessary energy use.
- Remote Control and Monitoring: With smart home automation, you can remotely control your lights and smart plugs via smartphone apps. This means you can turn off lights or appliances that may have been accidentally left on, reducing energy waste even when you’re away from home. It also allows us to use variable timing schedules. Our GOVEE outdoor lights are programmed to turn off at sunrise every morning, based on our geographical position that I set in the app. No need to re-program during the changing seasons!
- Integration with Other Devices: Smart home systems can integrate with other devices like thermostats and occupancy sensors. By coordinating these smart devices, you can create customized schedules that align lighting usage with occupancy patterns, optimizing energy efficiency. Our systems are integrated with our Home Security system. So when we arm the house while we go out for errands, lights are turned off, and deadbolts are automatically locked.
Scenario Based Algorithms:
One of the remarkable features of home automation is the ability to employ “What-if” style algorithms. These powerful algorithms can activate pre-set protocols based on triggers like geo-location, weather conditions, or specific timeframes. This means that our homes can intelligently adapt to our needs without requiring constant manual adjustments. Smart thermostats, for instance, learn our heating and cooling preferences, considering variables like occupancy patterns and outdoor temperatures to ensure seamless comfort while minimizing energy waste.
Furthermore, integrating smart-enabled appliances with energy monitoring capabilities empowers us to be more conscious about our energy consumption. Observing real-time data and analyzing usage patterns gives us valuable insights into our energy habits.
Take, for example, my experience with our new RHEEM Hybrid hot water tank that is WIFI enabled. Its advanced programming and machine learning scheduling have significantly lowered our energy bills. By creating customized schedules based on our preferences and routines, the thermostat automatically adjusts the hot water temperature to save energy when we are away or asleep. Not very often am I drawing a bubble bath for myself at 3am, so why is my water heater preparing for it anyways? It also allows me to control it while we are away for the weekend in “vacation mode.” Yet when family members come in to check on our pets while we are away and needed to use the hot water again to wash their hands or clean something up – it is a press of a button to re-engage the system. This proactive and reactive approach has made a noticeable difference in our monthly utility costs.
I also notice now that we use whole home energy monitoring with our Emporia system to make more informed decisions on when I want to do our energy-intensive household chores. By installing our 19.11 KW solar array from SOLIS Energy, we can monitor when our peak generation times are. Our Emporia system knows precisely which breakers are the most demanding, like our dryer or range. So, I will sometimes choose to wait to bake banana bread or pies, which can take a great deal of baking time around noon when we produce the most solar electricity but tend not to consume the most because the kids are at school. I might also choose to delay my dishwasher or dryer’s timers to work opposite times of each other, not to create a larger peak load and better use the electricity I’m producing instead of simultaneously importing from the grid.
I am a nerd with a bad case of acquisition syndrome regarding new technology – but it’s also because I believe in it and see its results. Suppose I rely on my willpower and memory alone to manually change the thermostat, turn off lights, or unplug appliances that aren’t in use. In that case, it’s highly susceptible to failure – I am imperfect. When I am feeling under the weather – I want the comfort of extra heat or not having to get out of bed to turn off lights. When we rush out the door for vacation – I can focus on my “Home Alone” mom anxieties of having an accurate child headcount and know that my home automation isn’t so predictable that the “Wet Bandits” know when to rob my home. So my energy diets are thankfully on autopilot, which gives me some more mental energy to focus on not blowing my nutritional diet on my kid’s leftover Halloween Candy.