February 25, 2010
Saving energy in your home can be as simple as flipping a switch, turning down a thermostat, or changing a light bulb. Here are a few statistics, gathered from a 2008 report by the U.S. Department of Energy that may open your eyes to how energy is spent in your home, with suggestions to decrease energy expenditures.
FACT: 42% of a home’s energy is ‘spent’ on space heating and cooling.
Reduce your consumption and save when you:
1. Set back thermostats in seldom used areas of the home.
2. Set back thermostats when you leave the house and at night.
3. Heat home to a lower temperature (68°) ~ cool to a higher temperature (78°).
FACT: 13% of residential energy is spent on heating water.
Again, energy savings can be realized through a few simple practices:
4. Insulate your electric hot-water tank, but be careful to NOT cover the thermostat.
5. Lower the temperature on your water heater: a setting of 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.
6. Install a timer on your water heater to turn it off or lower the temperature, when you are away from home for the weekend or on vacation.
FACT: 11% of a home’s energy is taken by lighting.
Decrease your lighting expenditures:
7. Dimming lights by 25% reduces energy consumption by 20% and can extend the life of the light bulb by 4 times or more.
8. Replace interior lighting with light-emitting diode (LED) lights – these are dimmable, have a nice light quality, use less energy, and last longer than compact fluorescent lights (CFL).
9. Open window drapes and blinds to allow natural light to illuminate the space – and when designing a home from the ground up, talk to your architect about positioning windows to use as much natural light as possible.
10. And the most obvious, but often most overlooked: turn off the lights when not needed. Vacancy sensors or a master ‘AWAY’ button can turn the lights off automatically when they are unnecessarily left on.
These simple practices can significantly lower the amount of energy you spend powering ‘the basics’ of your home: heating and cooling, water heating, and lighting. However, it often becomes cumbersome to do these tasks daily, when adjusting to ever-changing living conditions. In this case, home automation may be the key to managing these systems easily, without needing to think about it.
Here’s a realistic example of how this happens in a 4,500 square foot home:
In a three-story home, all of the lights are tied together with one communication system, allowing a press of a button in the Mudroom to ‘talk to’ the rest of the lights in the home. When the home-owner leaves to go to work for the day, she presses ‘AWAY’. All of the lights and electronics in her home turn off, even the ones in the kids’ rooms on the third floor…
This same button press adjusts the thermostat to ‘energy mode’ while the house is vacant and an hour before the kids are scheduled to get home from school, the thermostat adjusts again.
When the home-owner comes home, the garage door opens and a well-lit path turns on from the garage to the kitchen. Since the lights have been replaced with LED lighting, a whole room uses the same power that was once taken by one 100-watt light bulb on at full blast.
At the end of the night, the ‘SLEEP’ button ensures the garage doors are closed, the security system is armed, the entertainment system turns off, the interior lights turn off, the exterior lights dim to 50%, and the whole-house thermostat adjusts again to ‘night mode’. Home-owners fall asleep knowing their home is secure while using the least amount of energy possible.
Green in a Very Big Way
Home automation, coupled with careful selection and design of electronic systems, can have a profound impact on one’s energy consumption – and on our environment. Imagine knowing how many pounds of carbon emissions you save from entering the environment by simply turning your thermostat down a few degrees… you will be amazed at how simple, daily changes can have a huge impact on energy consumption while cutting carbon emissions. If you would like to know more about home energy management through home automation, check out the web articles listed below. You can also contact me directly at Integration Controls: Jamie@integrationcontrols.com