Green tech for your home: saving energy and money
Today more than ever before it’s essential to move “green” from buzzword to everyday practice. Being a “green” homeowner means buying less, reusing more, and making do with what the Earth gives us - recognizing both its limitations and our own. Appreciating the planet isn’t difficult, but like all eco-friendly actions, the habit begins in your own backyard.
Many folks assume that what’s good for the planet is good for their pocketbooks, but the summer’s heat and storms can pose additional challenges. Longer, brighter, hotter days means higher air conditioning bills and greater stress on appliances. Old products use the most power, often siphoning electricity even when turned off - further decreasing your home’s energy efficiency.
A “smart” house which automatically attends to its inhabitant's' every need has been the dream of home planners since a robot maid first rolled on to The Jetsons. The following products - each connected to the Internet - have as their chief distinguishing feature an ability to learn, adapt, and therefore diminish the overall amount of power needed in a residential space. Each home-based technology was designed to allow greater control over energy usage, helping you stay “green” - even as the outdoors heat up.
Nest Smart Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are like preventative medicine - utilize them effectively, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the road. Today’s programmable thermostats are even better helpers than they were in past years. What makes the Nest Smart Thermostat different is its ability to learn the heating and cooling routine of a home’s inhabitants: it will, for example, automatically lower temperatures when you go to bed, or turn off the lights and A/C when you leave on a summer holiday. It can do all this remotely, without needing someone to program it or remember to manually dial it up or down. By reducing unnecessary heating and cooling, homeowners may see significant savings on their energy bills. Lower energy consumption means a beneficial reduction in the need for more coal and for new power plants, too.
FanSync by Fanimation is a combination of a smartphone app and a Bluetooth-equipped ceiling fan receiver. Once installed, it allows the user to control the on/off function, speed, and lights of every fan in the house. FanSync is part of a growing trend towards integrating control of a home's appliances and energy consumption with smartphones—thus, this control is always at a user's fingertips. This makes it much easier for forgetful inhabitants to turn off fans that might get left on when they leave a room or go outside, resulting in much less wasted electricity.
Misfit Flash Band
Wisely aware of the fact that even smartphones have their limitations, fitness band manufacturer Misfitwill be making smart home feature control, such as for the NEST thermostat, part of its Flash wearable fitness band. There is inevitable downtime while a smartphone is being charged, and it's only human to forget and misplace a phone. By integrating these controls into a band that runs on a small replaceable battery and that many people wear continuously anyway, Misfit makes it simpler for users to set or switch off unwanted heating, cooling, and lighting that would otherwise waste energy.
Smart Solar Panels
Options for clean power have expanded in recent years, and many wind, solar, and natural gas companies, such as The Wind Turbine Company, ATCO Gas, and SolarCity, have also developed innovative ways to use technology to support the growth of the renewable industry. Summertime, with its long sunny days, is the perfect time to look into one green energy option in particular: solar. SolarCity - the largest installer of residential solar panel systems in the U.S. - has “smart” technology as a component of their solar tech package. With the “My SolarCity” app, users can see just how much solar energy their home is producing in real time. By monitoring your energy statistics from a mobile device, the app can reveal just how much power you use when you turn on certain appliances, as well as how much energy is being generated by your solar system when you’re away. SolarCity leases are payable by monthly contract, with no start up fee.
View Dynamic Glass
View Dynamic Glass is programmable tinted glass for windows. It uses electric currents applied to layers of metal oxide on the glass's surface to change the tint in response to outside conditions, so it can cut down on heat and glare during the hottest part of the day in summer months and let more sunlight in for efficient, natural warming of rooms in the winter. The tint variations can be controlled via mobile phone app, and best of all, it has predictive intelligence built in, so the control system can learn and react automatically to user preferences and sunlight patterns. This remarkable technology signals a bright future for additional energy efficient window technology.
The ilumi Smartbulb is an LED bulb whose behavior can be controlled via a Bluetooth smartphone app. The bulb itself uses very little energy and lasts for up to 20 years. One phone app can control all of the smart bulbs in the house, individually or as a group. The technology in the bulb allows it to remember schedules and user preferences for brightness. Its environmental virtue lies with the smartphone control. It makes it easy to, for example, switch off lights accidentally left on in other rooms and makes it unnecessary to leave the lights on all day and night when on vacation, resulting in reduced energy use.
What these new technologies have in common is a desire to help homeowners help themselves. Many of these devices take into account that to err is human, and so is the tendency to leave on the lights or to go to bed and forget to turn off the ceiling fan. This summer, let some of the latest “smart” tools help you use your energy more intelligently and efficiently.
Guest Blogger These columns are the work of our guest bloggers who want to share their expert green opinions on a range of topics.