Smart Home Energy StrategiesSmart home systems help save energy because they connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) for easy automation and remote control.

A phone using Wi-Fi to connect to a smart home and all of its smart appliances.

Are Smart Homes Energy-Efficient?

Most people want to conserve energy, but it’s hard to know exactly how to best go about it. Smart home systems can help ease the process of saving energy because they connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). This connection allows for processes to be automated and controlled remotely.

For instance, appliances such as a smart refrigerator, a smart thermostat, and a smart lock can all be synced to your smartphone. If you were to leave your house having accidentally left the thermostat up too high, you could access the controls from your smartphone and adjust the temperature. Not only does the smart home allow for complete control over your appliances at remote locations, but it also enables the ability to monitor them. Smart home systems are improving every day with new technologies that optimize energy efficiency with convenience in mind.

What Is Home Automation?

A smart home is equipped with internet-connected devices, such as lighting, HVAC, or other electronics. Home automation is facilitated by the Internet of Things (IoT) and refers to the ability of these smart homes to regulate themselves autonomously. The IoT, a system of interconnected machines and devices, can include computers, cell phones, and tablets. However, smart automation has grown to include household appliances such as refrigerators and thermostats.

The connectivity between such appliances and the IoT enables remote monitoring and control. Each smart appliance essentially can be accessed through a smartphone or other network-connected device. These remote abilities provide users with comfort, security, and efficiency, among other things.

Smart Appliances

Smart appliances work by connecting to Wi-Fi, so you can manage them from practically anywhere. If you plan on adding smart appliances to your home, you may consider purchasing a smartphone as well as upgrading your wireless internet service. Since most of these appliances can communicate to you through the wireless network, you’ll want to have both a device and a plan compatible with remote control access.

Benefits of a Smart Refrigerator

The touchscreen interface on the front of a smart refrigerator allows users complete control in a plethora of ways. A smart refrigerator can keep a log of the food inside it, create grocery lists based on that log, and then sync them onto your phone. Food waste could no longer an issue with the ability to set expiration dates, then have the appliance remind you of them.

Among other useful features, a smart refrigerator can read recipes as you cook. Similar to other smart appliances, this one also allows for the complete monitoring of energy usage.

Benefits of a Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat can help you control the temperature of your house throughout the day or night. By setting scheduled temperatures for specified times of the day, you can easily optimize for energy efficiency. Essentially, the thermostat can be scheduled to remain at a lower temperature when you are at work versus a higher one when you are home.

Not only does this maximize energy efficiency, but it cuts down on monthly costs while doing so. Running the air conditioner all day during the summer can get expensive. However, scheduled temperature adjustments can relieve the need for remembering to turn down the thermostat.

Benefits of a Smart Washer and Dryer

Smart washers and dryers take the world of smart appliances to a whole new level. With the ability to download new cycles for certain types of fabric, it seems there’s nothing these appliances cannot do. Additional benefits could include remote control access, as well as real-time updates on the state of your laundry. The former allows you to easily start a load while away from home, while the latter can detect how long a load should run for.

For the washer, sensors within the machine can detect how dirty a load is, and then optimize for the amount of detergent and water needed. For the dryer, sensors within the machine can detect how much moisture is on the clothes, setting the cycle’s length in accordance with moisture levels.

Smart Meters

Used to measure and record energy usage, smart meters are largely disrupting traditional meters. Smart meters provide accurate measurements of how much electrical energy a given home or business is using. These measurements can then be sent back to the electricity supplier. Due to the accuracy of smart meters, estimated bills and logs of usage are no longer needed. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “In 2018, U.S. electric utilities had about 86.8 million advanced (smart) metering infrastructure (AMI) installations. About 88% of the AMI installations were residential customer installations.”

Energy-Saving Strategies for Smart Homes

Smart appliances make changing energy consumption habits easy. By knowing how much energy each appliance is using, you can establish where you need to cut down on consumption. In order to receive the full benefits of a smart home, consider these helpful tips:

Get a Strong Internet Connection

If you plan on having security cameras, for example, or multiple smart appliances in your home, you may want to consider looking into high-speed internet deals. While a single smart appliance usually does not eat up too much bandwidth, cameras are an exception. Cameras, especially ones that record video, can eat up a lot of bandwidth — in other words, the amount of data you have to send and receive.

Similarly, each additional smart appliance you install can further hinder internet speed. In order to get the best use out of your smart appliances, you may want to compare high-speed internet service providers to find the one most suitable for your needs. A general recommendation would be to add about 5 Mbps to your internet plan for every security camera you install. For every 10 or so additional smart appliances you install, another 5 Mbps should be added.

Set Smart Assistant Routines

A smart assistant allows you to complete multiple tasks all with one command. For instance, you may have a morning routine — you turn your lights on, you check the news, and you review your personal calendar. Your smart assistant can be programmed to remember that routine, and execute it at a preferred time every morning with a simple command such as “Good Morning, Alexa” or “Good morning, Google” depending on your assistant. Further routines can include ones for arriving home or for bedtime.

Use Automated Power Saving Modes

Smartphone users know that after a certain amount of inactivity, the screen will turn black and go into idle mode. This, however, does not completely turn your phone off and as such continues to drain the battery. Some other smart appliances, on the other hand, have programmed automated power-saving modes that remember to turn off your appliances, in case you forget.

Such forgetfulness can result in a great deal of energy waste if appliances are left in idle mode. According to a study of Northern California by the Natural Resources Defense Council, “All this electricity consumption [in idle mode] contributes to the 1,375 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity used in U.S. homes annually and the nearly 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution — 15 % of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — from burning fossil fuels to generate it every year.” In other words, leaving multiple appliances in idle mode adds up. With automated power-saving modes, on the other hand, energy efficiency is fundamental.

Use Smart Lighting

Smart lighting replaces traditional light bulbs with energy-saving ones. Essentially, every smart light comes with an LED bulb. These bulbs are highly energy efficient. Not only do they save you money with their energy efficiency, but they also last considerably longer than traditional bulbs. According to the Department of Energy, “Residential LEDs — especially ENERGY STAR rated products — use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.”

An easy way to begin conserving energy would definitely be to invest in smart lighting. Further features of these appliances include voice commands, dimmers, motion sensors, timers, and iPhone compatibility. With Amazon Alexa, for instance, simple voice commands such as “Alexa, turn off the lights” can prove to be very convenient in times of hurry.

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