Written by guest blogger Nick Simpson.
It’s no secret that our planet (and those of us who live on it) is in danger. From global climate change to holes in the ozone layer to rapidly depleting natural resources and melting polar ice caps, our planet needs all the help it can get. Fortunately, people are waking up to the fact that we need to be more responsible about the way we live our lives and how much energy we use. More and more people are doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprints.
In order to do that, of course, we need to reduce our energy use. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is by using Smart Home environmental controls. Smart homes are homes in which some or all of the appliances and electronics are controlled by embedded computers which can be controlled remotely. Homes can be built as smart homes or existing homes can be retrofitted to employ the technology. In many cases, these technologies are affordable and accessible today.
Here are seven ways that environmental controls are helping to save the planet:
1. Automated regulation of heat. Most people don’t think to adjust the thermostat when they leave the home. In some cases, it’s because they haven’t taken the time to consider how much money it could save to run the furnace and air conditioning less when they aren’t home. In other cases, it’s simply a matter of wanting the temperature of their home to be where they like it when they come home. Using smart home technology, people can set their thermostats to the temperature they like when they’re going to be home without running the furnace or AC nonstop while they’re gone. Today, you can install a programmable thermostat for less than $50 and put yourself on the way to saving energy and making your home smarter.
2. Quick detection of leaks. Small leaks can go undetected for a long time and can waste lots of water. On top of that, they can damage housing structures, using up more natural resources for repairs. Smart homes use sensors to detect and pinpoint leaks, allowing them to be fixed before they can cause significant damage and waste. You can do this today by installing add-ons for your home management system, or by installing standalone sensors for around $80 apiece.
3. Eliminates the need to leave the lights on. Many people leave lights on when they leave the house, either to ensure they’ll be able to see when they get home or in an attempt to dissuade burglars. That’s not a bad idea, but it does use up more electricity than needed during daylight hours. Smart homes use an embedded computer to turn lights on and off, either on a schedule or manually via your remote device. Being able to leave the home without leaving the lights on saves electricity, reducing your carbon footprint. Today, you can install timer switches for your lighting outlets for just a few dollars each.
4. Raising our awareness of energy use. It’s been said that knowledge is power. When people know how much power they’re using and how much it impacts the environments (to say nothing of what it costs them), they will be more likely to turn unused appliances off. Smart home technology can alert you to electronics and appliances you have left on which are not in current use. Even better, with smart appliances equipped with embedded computers, you’ll be able to turn them off from anywhere in the world. These kinds of savings require a whole-house management system, and can be installed at the time the home is built or by retrofitting an existing home.
5. Compartmentalizing heating and air conditioning. We’ve long been able to compartmentalize heating and air conditioning by opening and closing vents. Realistically, though, who goes through their house and does that? Smart home technology makes it easy to compartmentalize your home. You can keep the areas which are in regular use at a comfortable living temperature while allowing unused areas to be kept warmer or cooler, as your local climate dictates. These systems involve installing a new heating and cooling system, and may include ductwork. Compartmentalized heating and cooling is most effective in new construction.
6. Making ecological responsibility economically advantageous. Sad to say, there are many who won’t make lifestyle changes simply because it’s good for the planet we share. Many of these people will make changes if they can see a marked difference in their checkbook at the end of the month. Smart home technology will motivate many people who are not particularly environmentally conscious to change their lifestyles. They may not care about conserving natural resources, but they do care about conserving money. Fortunately, the result is the same regardless of the motives.
7. Remote control of energy use using mobile devices. How many times have you returned home only to realize you left appliances on that should have been shut off? If you’re one of those people who forgets to turn things off, you’re not alone. Imagine your mobile device sending you an alert that you have an appliance running with no one home and giving you the ability to shut it off, either by pushing a button or issuing a voice command. Now imagine the energy we would save if everyone could do that. With smart home technology, they can. These systems are available in the newest whole-home management technologies.
Will smart home technology save the planet all by itself? Of course not. If we have the good sense to implement it, however, it can be a major component in a larger strategy to conserve fossil fuels, reduce our carbon footprint and slow down global climate change.
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