Home Automation systems are built around lighting controls, with other aspects of home control tied into them. Careful planning can take advantage of this automation to reduce energy consumption dramatically.
1. The ALL OFF command can be programmed to switch off all lights when you go to bed at night. This way there are no lights left on, using energy when there is no one to see. For further control, lights can be programmed to turn off one portion of the house when it is not in use, activated by a single button on a wallplate or your smart phone
2. Most automations systems are set up with an AWAY command that you push when you are leaving home. This can be programmed to not only arm the security system, but also to set back the heating or air conditioning and dim lights to a minimum. Some systems include a “geo-fencing” feature that will automatically ramp things back up when you are approaching home. Others can be accessed through your smart phone to let you ramp up when you are on your way.
3. With home automation, lights can be set to individual levels of dimming to create “scenes” to suit various activities. If you set the lights so that when they are nominally all on they are still dimmed to 90% of full brightness, you’ll save 10% on energy consumption without noticing the difference.
4. If you combine zoned heating with occupancy sensors and home automation, your house can heat only those parts of the house that are occupied. The same sensors can trigger lights when someone enters a room and be set to turn off lights after a specified period on inactivity.
5. Motorized window treatments, in addition to convenience, can contribute to energy savings if integrated with an automation system. Use heat sensors strategically placed to trigger closing of window coverings if the sun’s heat builds up, reducing the air conditioning load.
6. Use the home automation programming to take advantage of time-of-use rates from your utility. On hot summer days, pre-cool the house during off-peak times so that the air conditioning can be reduced during peak hours. You can control power feeds to your washer and dryer so that you can’t use them during peak costs times, unless you specifically override the system. This helps train you to think about when you do your laundry in order to save energy costs.
7. Energy monitors can be used in conjunction with home automation to let you know when there are spikes in energy use so that you can adjust. If you are aiming at a zero-sum energy efficient home, using alternative energy sources such as solar panels, energy monitors can also track the energy produced to help you keep that balance.
8. With monitors that can track both heat and humidity during the summer months you can use your home automation to set up a system in which the air conditioning comes on above a certain level of humidity but below that it activates just the fans to circulate cooling air.
9. Combine home automation with powered windows and a fan in skylight wells so that when there is a heat build-up it can trigger opening the skylight and turning on the fans to vent the heat outside without engaging the air conditioning. You may want to also integrate a moisture sensor so that it overrides the command if it is raining.
10. Instead of leaving night lights on all night, use the automation system to detect movement and illuminate specific pathways for midnight trips to the bathroom or kitchen.