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home automation

An Introduction to Home Automation

What is Home Automation?

How Does Home Automation Work?

Home Automation Benefits:

Save Energy
Increased Home Security
Added Convenience
Improved Home comfort

Videos & Examples

One of the biggest benefits of a Home Automation system is it cuts your energy costs and use. Although their are additional ways to cut costs the two main systems that effect energy use are your heating/air conditioning and your lights. In a 2001 Energy Survey Heating and Air conditioning consumed 26% of all energy use, and Lighting accounted for almost 9% and water heating also used 9% of all household energy used, the rest is used by various other appliances such as refrigerators, computers etc.

Heating and Air Conditioning

thermostatObviously if Heating and Air Conditioning use 26% of your energy costs this would be the main area you would want to tackle. Most people have programmable thermostats, Do You? These are nice, they are definitely more energy efficient than the old set and leave thermostats. But do you program yours? Is it easy? Does it make sense? I'll leave these questions for you to answer. If you do use yours you know you have to reset the temperature and all of the different settings in the spring, summer, fall and winter. Personally we used to just use ours like an old set and leave, set it at one temp when we go to bed. When we get up we'd wake up to a cold house and then we'd turn it up for throughout the day. We tried programming it but our lives don't revolve around a daily schedule. What would this mean for your household, when you leave during the day does your thermostat lower in the winter? Perhaps it does on weekdays, but what if you go out to a game on the weekend, does it lower then? Does that mean that your heater is running when it doesn't need to, and yes wasting energy?

What if you automated your heating and air conditioning? In this case you have an automated thermostat that is automatically programmed to different target temperatures. Perhaps you have target temperatures set for the following various situations.

  1. Home Day
  2. Away Day
  3. Home Sleep
  4. Away Sleep
  5. Vacation

bedroomThis sounds like a lot to think about but actually once you decide the temperatures for the various states and times of year, you don't have to remember any more. This is because when you leave for the day you arm your security system, this will tell the Home Automation system to put your Thermostat in Away Day Mode. This way while you are out running your errands you don't have to waste energy heating an empty house. When you or one of your family arrives home your security system again tells your Thermostat to turn back to Home Day Mode. If you don't have a security system the same thing could be triggered by occupancy sensors, or just a simple keypad at the front or back doors. If you incorporate an automated thermostat in Minnesota it is sure to pay you back very quickly. Not only that but instead of waking up to a cold house you can have your thermostat set to go out of Home Sleep mode and go into Home Day mode 30 minutes before you wake up, by also incorporating an automated alarm clock.

 

Lighting

As we had discussed earlier, lighting accounts for about 10% of household energy used, but it is estimated that almost 50% of this is wasted energy due to inefficient lights and careless use by homeowners.

lightingDid you know that by dimming your lights to 50% you would reducing the amount of electricity used by 40%? Of course you can switch to the CFL lights but most people are not happy with the kind of light they put out and also there is starting to be a lot of concerns about the safety to the end user as well as the danger they pose to the environment. We personally have tried many of them and have not found a light we can live with. You'd be surprised by the amount of light a regular bulb puts out even when it's dimmed to 50%, in most cases it is more than an adequate amount of light for the purpose at hand. Many times when we program our home automation systems we only have the lights turn onto 50%, and then if the user needs more light for reading or some other task they can individually turn that particular light up as needed. Simply by defaulting your lights to only turn on to half will immediately start to cut your energy use.

Have you ever wandered into a seldom used room in your house only to discover that the light was left on? You wonder who turned this on? When was the last time someone was in this room? Well you and I both know it has happened, and we both know the entire time that light was burning away electricity. Using a Home Automation system this would have never happened, because before you went to bed at night you would of hit a button on your bedside touch panel, or perhaps on your iphone or ipod touch that says, sleep mode. This would have automatically turned all of the lights off in the entire house. No burning light, no wasted electricity, and you didn't even have to know that the light was left on in the basement. I'm petty sure you are starting to see how using a home automation system with your lights can really start to save you some money.

Other Energy Savers

Of course there are other ways to use a Home Automation system to start cutting energy costs. Some of these are.

  1. Automating shades on a large south facing window, open to let the sun's heat in during the winter, close to keep it out in the summer.
  2. Automate unused electric devices to turn completely off.
  3. Put cell phone chargers and other wall warts on an automated surge strips.

Would you like to learn more?

silver logoWould you like to learn more about how your home automation system can help you reduce your energy use? We offer a free home demonstration and consultation. If you'd like to sit down with us to learn more about home automation please contact us here.

Next Page: Improving Your Home Security

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