In this day and age of tough economic times and everyone concerned about “being green”, home automation can help you both be green and save green. There are many ways home automation can be used to save money and be
green. Let’s go over some of them now.
The primary way to be green with home automation is to save energy. This can be accomplished in many ways, but the simplest is with the proper use of lighting. It’s very common for lights to be left on throughout the house when people are not using them. Integrating motion sensors into your home automation system can help alleviate this problem. Simple motion sensors can be used, along with control software to watch for motion and take note of when the last occurrence of motion was. After a set time, if there is no motion in the room, the lights will turn off. The logic involved in the system making this decision to turn off the lights can be as simple or complex as you would like it to be. Anything is possible when you integrate a computer and scripting into your integrated home automation system.
Along the same lines, closet lights are a specific place where lights are often left on. Motion sensors may not be the best solution for this situation. Another option is contact closures. Simple sensors can be used, and attached to a closet door to automatically turn on the light when the door is open and turn it off again when the door is shut. This is very simple, and after family members get used to the set up, it is very effective in saving energy.
A third lighting related use of home automation to save money is with timers. Timers can be used to turn on and off specific lights based on the time of day. For security reasons, it is beneficial to have some outside lights on at night. The problem is people often forget to turn them on/off. Simple timing devices, or logic programmed into a computer controlled system can take care of this very easily.
The second use of home automation technology to be green (and save green) is by utilizing a smart or programmable thermostat. According to Energy-Star.gov the average household spends more than $2200 a year on energy bills, nearly half of that is spent on HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). When you utilize a smarter thermostat and set it accordingly, you can save up to $200 a year! That is some substantial savings!
There are several ways that a smart thermostat can be used, depending on where you live. We live in Florida, so the primary use of our HVAC system is for Air Conditioning, but this can be reversed for Northern (colder) states. First is the automatic set back. My house knows what time the family wakes, so at that time it sets the thermostat to the ideal temperature as we are getting ready for our day. After we leave it kicks back the temperature several degrees to save energy. There is no need to keep the house at the perfect temperature when it is empty. Later, the house can prepare for your arrival by reverting to your ideal temperature before you get home, and then again bump up a few degrees when you go to bed. This makes a big difference. The nice thing is, once you find the right temperature settings and program the system, you can forget about it. One common mistake is to raise the temperature too high. If it is too high, the HVAC unit has to work too hard to get the temperature back to ideal levels. I have found that about 5-6 degrees works very well, but depending on the house, this could be different for you. Experiment with it.
Another use for home automation is to control window shades and drapes. A computer controlled system can regulate not only the amount of light in the home, and privacy levels, but also help to regulate temperature. For example, opening up the blinds in the morning , to let in sunlight can help heat the home in cold regions. The shades can be closed at night for privacy or if the home gets too hot.
Another common waste of resources is irrigation system overuse. How many times have you driven by a house with the sprinklers running in the rain? Or even after several inches of rain that day or the day before for that matter? A computer controlled home automation system can be programmed to make logical decisions. Before the system turns on the sprinklers at their predetermined time, it can check the internet weather report to A: See if it has rained in a certain period of time, say the last 2 days. Then B: See if significant rain is in the immediate future. If the answer to those two questions is no, then it would activate the sprinkler system. This simple logic, set up once, will save you significant money, and will help you be green.
These are just a few of the ways home automation can help you both be green and save green. Use your imagination and you will be shocked at what you can do.