Technology has advanced home energy usage to be more
effective, leading to an upward trajectory in savings.
During the last 10 years, developers have created many revolutionary breakthroughs in the smart home technology market. Staying informed about the ever-changing technology innovations can be challenging, but it can also reward the consumer who chooses to implement any new technological advancements with monetary savings, time and energy resources.
Most modern devices have transitioned to wireless technology, and most of the items in a home are surveilled directly through wireless internet. Being able to closely monitor energy usage in a home has equipped users with the tools necessary to become more energy conscious.
As many as 85 percent of adults in America wield a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. Most household appliances are now Wi-Fi-enabled, allowing the consumer to control and customize almost everything from a smart mobile device as they see fit. This channel of connection to household devices through Wi-Fi has often been described as the “Internet of Things,” and it continues to yield value to consumers.
When most people think of the Internet of Things, they normally envision tablets, home security monitoring systems and doorbell cameras. However, those items don’t even put a dent in the ongoing list of advancements in modern technology. Smart devices can offer so much and save members valuable time, and dollars. Understanding the Internet of Things can lead to potential energy usage efficiency in the future.
Here are some innovative products to consider when making your home smarter:
HVAC systems soar far above any other energy user in a home, averaging around 60 percent of a home’s yearly energy consumption. More than half of a home’s energy usage is consumed by keeping the temperature within a household comfortable. Taming the biggest user in a home starts with adjusting thermostat settings.
Heat pump HVAC systems have grown to become universally available and are popular in the southern region. A heat pump is well designed to use less energy than an electric resistance heating system, making it more energy efficient. While an updated system designed to use less energy and provide savings is a definite benefit, the units can also be paired with Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats. This provides the luxury of being able to preheat or precool the home before arrival. United members can also receive a $50 rebate for installing a Nest, ecobee, or Honeywell Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat. Any other brand of Wi-Fi thermostat could qualify for a $25 rebate. To make the most out of a home’s energy usage, United recommends 68 degrees or lower during the winter, and 78 degrees or higher during the summer. Every degree above 68 degrees in the winter, or lower than 78 degrees in the summer, can lead to a 5 percent increase in electric usage. Monitoring a thermostat wirelessly can effectively reduce the amount of usage in a home. Smart thermostats and their advanced Wi-Fi capabilities can make a large, positive impact in lowering a home’s average energy consumption.
Water heaters, the second-largest energy consumer in a residence, can now be controlled by mobile devices. Estimated water heater usage is 16 percent of a home’s total usage. Wi-Fi water heaters can come geared with features that can help save members valuable energy dollars because temperatures can be adjusted directly through a mobile device. United recommends an operating temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Certain water heaters with Wi-Fi capability offer new benefits such as a vacation mode, where the water heater temperature can be adjusted for a certain amount of time, ensuring energy is not wasted while a home is vacant. Some also have a leak detection sensor that can send mobile alerts to a mobile device if a leak is detected. Wi-Fi-paired models are available for both standard electric tank water heaters and heat pump water heaters (more than twice as efficient as conventional water heaters).
Washers & Dryers:
Wi-Fi accessibility has also expanded to other devices in a home, allowing the member to take control from the tap of a screen. For example, washers and dryers now come equipped with learning capabilities and sensors that can detect fabric texture and load size that can be communicated to a mobile device. Wi-Fi-connected models can provide constant statistics for run times, energy usage and identify the cost for each load of laundry. Wi-Fi-enabled driers pair savings with convenience, eliminating the worry of leaving home and coming back to clothes that are not fully dry. The financial and environmental benefits smart devices present cannot be ignored.
New refrigerator models can also be accessed remotely via smartphone. The benefits of various Wi-Fi-enabled smart refrigerators can include built-in cameras for additional convenience. Smart refrigerators can also adjust and closely monitor temperatures, and send push notifications to a smart device to notify the consumer if something is blocking the internal temperature gauge. Smart refrigerators will even send reminders for when water filters need to be changed, or alerts if the door was left open to ensure effective usage.
New features of smart ovens make cooking less tedious for members. For example, smart ovens can send alerts when preheat mode is complete. They also have the ability to adjust the temperature or edit the cooking time with the touch of a button. Smart ovens are designed to assist with time management, hands-free operation and saving money.
Swimming pools consume a hefty amount of energy. However, that expense can be reduced depending on what type of pump it is and how many hours per day the pump is programmed to run. Smart swimming pool pumps can be remotely controlled from a phone, which allows the pump to have precise programming. Many pool pumps come with variable-speed motors that perform more efficiently, and they have multiple speed settings.
Switching to a pump that has multiple speed settings, programmable settings, low noise operations and a self-priming system can save time and money for the consumer.
Wi-Fi-enabled electrical outlets exist as well and can be guided from a smartphone. Allowing what is plugged into the Wi-Fi-enabled outlet can often be controlled by an application. These outlets offer scheduled run times, enabling the consumer to embrace customizing to the fullest extent. Wi-Fi-enabled outlets can also send energy usage reports for the device plugged into the outlet.
If the consumer would like increased visibility of the home’s energy usage, they could install an energy-monitoring device at their breaker panel. Smart devices, like a Sense Energy Monitor, can be used to monitor the current flowing within a home’s walls. It will show real-time data, identifying the energy hogs in the home. Energy monitoring devices show information such as the amount of load on each breaker, and what is consuming energy in real-time.
Smart electrical panels have become widely available, too. They can serve as an added extension to an existing breaker panel for monitoring usage data and supporting backup generators or solar power. Smart panels can offer remote access to power down breakers manually in the home. Programming for priority loads is also available, giving the ability to select what loads are a necessity during a power outage. Moreover, this data can travel directly to any smart device through push notifications or be sent directly to applications for the device. This information paves a path to savings by being able to monitor energy usage.
United continues to closely monitor innovative technology on the market, striving to keep members well informed. United’s team is dedicated to assisting its membership in any way possible and offers free home energy audits. Call any local United office to request a free home energy audit or visit www.ucs.net/energy-audits for more information.