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Smart Home Automation Saves Future Energy

By Guest Blogger AJ Wilcox

Smart Home Automation

If you’re anything like me, the outlook right now for powering your home is looking abysmal. Oil prices are at an all-time high. We’re trying to get away from burning coal, but radiation leaks after the Japanese tsunami are making everyone question. Unfortunately all of these occurrences point to us using power sources which are both inefficient and bad for the environment.

We’re moving closer to ultra-efficiency and net-zero homes and I’ve got an awesome set up to conserve my home’s electricity for my lighting.

Between 12-15 percent of energy use in homes is lighting. That’s a huge amount if you consider that people are running TVs, microwaves, refrigerators and stoves which are all huge energy suckers. I’ve got two techie tricks of easily saving energy in your home.

1. Dim the Lights

I have a Crestron system in my home, but you can do similar things with almost any home automation package. What you do is program your lights to only come on to 75% of full luminosity when activated. You would think that 25-percent is a lot, but it’s hardly perceptible to your eyes.
This trick ends up cutting your lighting portion of your bill by 20-percent by itself. As an added bonus, you will find your lights will last 4 times longer than at full blast because of the wear and tear on them being so much less.

When someone drops a contact lens or you need the most light possible, you can always turn on full power to them, but you’ll find yourself loving how much you’re saving without even trying.

2. Motion Sensors

How much energy do you waste because your kids leave the lights on and walk out of the room? Just twice this month I walked outside in the morning for a run and realized we left the porch lights burning all night long. So frustrating!

We’ve all seen the garage lights that turn on when there’s motion, right? We’re talking that, but on anabolic steroids.

Imagine a motion sensor in every living space. When you walk into the room, the lights automatically turn on. When you leave, they turn off. No wasted electricity and you may never have to touch a light switch ever again.

A really fun program you can run on it is between the night hours, only to bring lights on to 10-percent when motion is detected. That way your eyes don’t hate you if you have to use the bathroom or run to the kitchen for a midnight snack, and you won’t have to worry about stepping on any toys along the way.

But Automation is Too Expensive!

Yes, what Tony Stark has in his house is much too expensive for you, but surprisingly home automation lighting is getting extremely reasonable. It’s not uncommon to find lighting for $140 per switch, and add a processor and programming, and you can be into a basic system where the energy savings payback period is attractive.

There are many low-cost, even do-it-yourself automation systems out there where you can also cut costs if you need to. I’m always a Crestron fan, though, if you can fit it into your budget, as it’s going to be rock solid and you won’t be troubleshooting every Saturday.

And as more and more people see it as a viable option, prices will continue to drop, making it more viable! So if you can’t find room in the budget for it now, watch for the future. Then dream that someday your home will be so efficient that the power company will be paying you for feeding excess power back to the grid.


About the Author: AJ Wilcox is the marketing manager for a Utah home theater company that specializes in whole-home automation and integration. He’s got two kids and a wife, and loves running, technology, and drooling over exotic cars.

About Kevin

Kevin is both an environmentalist and a tech guy and has been writing, editing and publishing this blog since 2007. He answers questions related to how you can use tech to go greener.

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