Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey have all showcased fabulous multimillion-dollar homes that save on energy usage. Room temperature, lights, and music all turn off and on as the occupant enters and exits the room. Bill Gates once promoted this smart energy home as the home of the future. Today, anyone can control their living environment from a smartphone and apps.
The smart energy meter is at the center of the smart energy home. Smart meters replace the electricity and gas meters that have traditionally been read by a home visit from the meter man. You can track your energy use in real time from a smart meter display or mobile app. By knowing the price per kilowatt (kWh) of electricity at different times of the day, you can adjust your energy consumption behaviors.
Once smart meters are connected to smart appliances, tremendous energy savings are possible. You could save hundreds of dollars a year by running your washing machine, charging your electric car or vacuuming with the Roomba at 3 AM in the morning – all while you sleep!
Here are several ways your smart home can help you save on your monthly electricity, gas and water heating bills.
One of the best ways to save electricity is still to turn off the lights before you leave the room, but now the connected smart home can do it for you automatically. About half of US households have smart meters installed. The next step is to connect your energy devices with a smart hub.
Appliances need to be compatible with the smart home system. Popular smart home systems include Amazon Alexa, Google Home, WeMo, and Nest. Many systems are cross-compatible and can use a Google Home speaker, WeMo-enabled coffee maker, and Nest thermostat, and so on.
With apps and applets controlled by your smartphone, here are some more energy savings you can create:
Let smart lights light up a room – Smart home systems become more intelligent when sensors are added. A light and motion sensor can turn lights off and on as people enter and exit a room.
Automate temperature control – A temperature sensor can adjust the heat when a room is occupied. Blinds can automatically open to let natural lighting heat a room when the sun is shining.
Buy smart appliances – Buy appliances that connect to the smart home hubs of Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Nest. You can program these appliances from your smartphone app to turn on during the day when you are at work or at 3 am while you sleep when electricity prices are low. Most major brands make smart appliances today. They include GE, Whirlpool, Bosch, LG and Samsung. The next time you are shopping for appliances and you see an appliance without connectivity for $100 less, consider how much energy you could save over one year with the connected smart appliance.
Natural Gas Energy Savings
Natural gas provides the cheapest way to heat your home while lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Natural gas dryer – A natural gas dryer means fewer clothes to iron, and that is a good enough reason to buy one. Natural gas dryers create a more humid environment that results in fewer wrinkles in clothes. Like natural gas heating, your natural gas dryer will heat up faster and thus use less time and energy.
Use natural gas water heaters – The high thermal efficiency of natural gas water heaters can lower water bills and reduce GHG emissions from electric water heaters. Combination water and space heating systems can save on room and water heating.
Warm the room with a natural gas fireplace – Natural gas provides consistent heat without the pollutant emissions emitted by burning wood.
Cook like a chef with natural gas ranges and ovens – Professional chefs use natural gas ranges because their even heat is better for sautéing and simmering food. Whether or not you are a gourmet chef, natural gas ranges help with energy costs savings . Most gas ovens are self-cleaning.
You may be able to receive rebates for buying gas appliances. Like your electricity appliances, your gas appliances can be connected to your smart home hub. Radiant flooring and the fireplace can be turned on as you enter the room.
Water Heating Savings
Bathe with low flow shower heads – Water-saving shower heads require less energy to heat water. Your shower head should have a flow rate of about 2.5 GPM – the water flow in gallons per minute. Many newer models of shower heads have a flow rate under 2.0. Some shower heads can be adjusted by choosing between 0.5, 1.0 and or 1.5 GPM. With the 2.5 GPM shower head, you could save about $15 a year in water usage and $25 in heating bills, according to the EPA. Those savings add up to $200 a year for a family of four.
Install low flow faucets and aerators – WaterSense® faucets use 20 percent less water. While a 2.5 GPM flow rate is acceptable, a flow rate of 1.5 gallons reduces water flow by 30 percent more. If you do not want to replace your faucet, attach an aerator to your faucet. This device limits the water flow.
Buy the latest model of washing machines – Energy efficient standards were raised for washing machines in 2018. Top-load washers are 23 percent more water efficient and 18 percent more energy efficient over 2015 standards. Energy Star certified washers use 14 gallons less water than standard models. Newer model washing machines use new cleaning technologies to clean clothes at lower temperatures.
One of the most attractive features of today’s plug-and-play smart home is that the homeowner does not have to install all of these energy efficient technologies all at once. You could buy the smart home hub and slowly add smart appliances. Your new smart home can be controlled from a web application, smartphone or watch.