In recent years smart homes have evolved to provide comfort, entertainment, efficiency and ease of use to homeowners throughout New Zealand. However, new developments mean that smart homes are now integrating energy automation into systems already in place, enabling users to have a home that maximises energy use and reduces their carbon footprint.
Why does clean energy matter?
Clean energy, otherwise known as renewable energy, generally refers to energy sources or solutions that create less pollution, are more sustainable and are better for our natural environment. Examples of clean energy sources are hydroelectricity via turbines, geothermal heating or electricity, wind turbines, bioenergy from biological sources, solar energy, and marine energy from waves and tides.
Solar power is currently most common way to incorporate renewable energy into your home. However, smart home integrators and providers are beginning to incorporate not only hardware elements but energy automation software into their offerings, advancing the possibilities of clean energy for people in New Zealand and beyond.
Today, climate change is a high profile topic around the world, and finding smart solutions to generate clean energy in the home and save drawing as much power off the grid could have a ripple effect beyond the homeowner or family, to the wider community, utility companies and even the global environment.
Smart homes and clean energy
Tools and services designed to boost energy efficiency and sustainability in the home have existed for years, however in recent times these tools have begun to be integrated with smart homes to create a holistic system that significantly increases benefits and functionality.
In smart homes of the future, solar and storage energy is incorporated to enhance how energy is used, and communication between devices provides key data points and the means to measure, control and manage energy. Smart software works to understand a home and the unique way it is used, bringing in elements such as load shedding, shaping energy use, using more or less energy on peak or off peak times, and coordinating regular power from the utility-managed electrical grid with alternative energy sources such as solar power. In addition, new energy-focused features can incorporate intelligent energy storage and usage with backup batteries and fail-safe options.
When it comes to the home itself, a significant amount of energy is expended through home appliances, air conditioning and lighting. To combat this, smart homes can integrate automatic sensor lights and blinds, temperature sensors and the use of heating and cooling timers, and may even track the usage of each main appliance and give the homeowner the opportunity to schedule use times of these appliances, such as the dishwasher, on off peak times.
Energy as part of a total system
When integrated with existing intelligent systems, energy becomes another key feature to be accessed and controlled from the central touchscreen panel of a smart home. Homeowners have access to information about their energy consumption and can manage their energy usage as they would their lighting, music, security and other home elements.
Crestron energy management, for instance, allows unlimited integration with all smart home systems, including lighting, audio and video, motorised shades, climate, touchscreens and remotes. The energy conservation plans offered by Crestron focus on power conservation as well as total energy monitoring and management, including power, water, gas and solar optimisation. The system has the ability to monitor and manage individual or group circuits, as well as pool heating and irrigation systems. Running continuously, the system is always looking for ways to best make use of devices, reduce power consumption and increase the home’s energy efficiency.
At present, energy automation is said to best suit homeowners who are concerned about climate change and renewable or clean energy sources, as well as homeowners who are interested in having a robust energy system in place that will continue to function during unexpected outages and power failures. However, dubbed a ‘dynamic new category’, it represents a great opportunity to anyone wanting to become more conscious of how their home functions and invest in their future.
The future of smart homes and energy
Developers and integrators such as Crestron are helping to advance this new feature of smart homes. Simultaneously, rapid advancements in sensor technology, automation and machine learning is resulting in new technologies, systems and sensors which will help make the smart home even smarter. Homeowners, in turn, have the opportunity to be empowered with greater monitoring and management of energy and device use, and be provided with intelligent solutions to energy and power use issues. As a result, homes can be much more efficient when it comes to their energy, water and utility consumption.
Already the greater demand for sustainability and energy saving options for consumers has seen an increase in the variety, type and style of clean energy installations. For instance, roofing shingles made of solar conductive material are now available in some parts of the world such as the United States for people to install on their homes, with similar options available for a driveway or hardscape that is in contact with a lot of sun. This clean energy can be used in conjunction with traditional power grids to create decentralised energy for homes all over the world.
It is predicted that a significant benefit that will continue to stand is cost savings. This is due to the fact that, through the clever use of hardware and software, homes are able to maximise their energy use, draw less power from the grid, and as a result see their power bill drop. In addition, a number of organisations and governments, in a bid to encourage everyday people to consider more sustainable solutions, are already offering grants and tax deductions for those implementing clean energy solutions into their home. This does differ significantly from country to country, however, and is largely determined by government.
In coming years it is expected that energy automation will enable the smart home to improve the lives of not only those living there but the area as a whole, and bring true value in the form of energy savings, a greater use of renewable over non-renewable energy, and greater awareness of how we can maximise the use of our resources without sacrificing comfort or ease of use.