Q: Are smart home technologies efficient? Will upgrading save me money?
A: You’ve probably heard the term smart home a lot in recent years. If you’re curious what makes your house smart, how it can add efficiency and help you save, you have come to the right place.
SMART was originally an acronym for self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology. This refers to technology that can be programmed for automation or controlled remotely using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi from a cellphone app or online login. A smart home has automated control of appliances and systems, such as lighting and HVAC.
People automate their homes for several reasons, including convenience, energy efficiency and security.
Just because a product is smart, don’t assume it’s energy efficient. Added connectivity, lights and touchscreens can increase energy use. Always look for the Energy Star logo when shopping, which certifies the products meet standards for energy efficiency.
Energy savings typically come from automating the systems, devices and appliances in your home to use less energy or use energy when it costs less. Here are a few ways you can start implementing smart technology at home.
Whole House Upgrades
Because heating and cooling account for the most energy use in a home, these systems are the best place to look for energy savings.
Smart thermostats offer features and functionality that can help you save energy and money without thinking about it, including learning temperature preferences and setting temperatures. Geofencing uses your cellphone location to adjust the temperature accordingly.
Smart thermostats also allow you to control the thermostat from anywhere with an internet connection. Features vary by product, so choose the one that’s right for you.
Smart window coverings are available and increasing in popularity. They can help save energy in the winter and summer by operating based on the temperature of the room or a preset schedule.
Smart lighting can help you remotely control the lights in your home, based on occupancy or a preset schedule. Lighting can be paired with home security systems.
You can use smart outlets and power strips to control devices from outside the home or manage use based on load. For example, you can plug your computer and devices into a load-sensing power strip that turns off peripherals, such as monitors and printers, when your computer is not in use.
Many people use Wi-Fi to stream TV programming. Smart TVs with built-in streaming functionality offer the most efficient way to stream content. If your TV cannot connect to the internet for streaming, opt for a streaming media player, such as Roku or Apple TV. They use 15 times less energy than a gaming console to stream the same shows and movies.
Smart washing machines can be scheduled for off-peak times, which is helpful if your electric rate is based on the time of day energy is used. Smart dryers shut off automatically when your clothes are dry.
There are many options for smart appliances in the heart of the home. Smart refrigerators offer energy-saving features, such as notifications when the door is left open. Digital screens show the contents to keep you from opening the door.
Smart ovens allow you to preheat when you are on your way home or check if you forgot to turn off the oven when you left home. Toasters, range hoods, microwaves and countertop ice makers are among the list of available smart kitchen gadgets.
More smart home technology is on the horizon, bringing more ways to operate the systems, devices and appliances in your home. Look for products that use the same smart home apps to make these new technologies easier to manage.