Home Automation Towards Energy Conservation

Karan Kumar, Co-founder & CTO, Hogar ControlsOnce considered science fiction, home automation is today a reality and is here to stay. The first thing that comes to one’s mind when one says home automation is security. Not anymore. Today, home automation is an all-encompassing solution and is the future of energy conservation.

Over time, home automation has become synonymous with energy conservation. Let’s see how. Statistics show that nearly 80 percent of the residential energy usage is between heating & cooling and lighting & appliances.

Utilising sensors fitted in rooms, lights can be turned on or off either automatically, or by the press of a button on the remote control.

Let us take a look at some of the options that are available for effectively managing energy at home.
Automated temperature control
One of the most common and earliest forms of home automation is the thermostat. The thermostat is used in many different household appliances like refrigerators, air coolers and air conditioners. The thermostat works on the basic principle of sensing temperature and turning the appliance on or off. Hence, the thermostat is one of the easiest ways to save power.

Climate Control

Smart thermostats keep the heating and cooling costs at bearable levels. The devices monitor energy usage within the home, as well as outside temperatures, helping to heat or cool your home as efficiently as possible. Climate control utilizes thermostats, filters and many other accessories which work in tandem to produce healthy and breathable air. Climate control ensures perfect coordination between cooling and heating air along with ensuring safe healthy air in the room, helping to save a considerable amount of power.

Smart thermostats connect to the Wi-FI network and don’t increase the energy usage, they learn from individual’s behavior and know when to adjust the temperature, saving energy and cost.

Lighting controls

It is but natural for humans to be forgetful. Imagine this – you come back home, tired from work, get yourself a plate of food and slump down into that new recliner you just purchased. That is when you realize that you forgot to switch off the light in the kitchen.
Ordinarily, you would get up, walk to the kitchen and manually turn off the light. When automated, the light switches off by itself, thereby saving energy. Utilising sensors fitted in rooms, lights can be turned on or off either automatically, or by the press of a button on the remote control. Automatic timers, motion sensors and light dimmer are the three most common automation of lighting.

Television, when not on full operational load, or when it is in standby mode, uses up a bit of energy, which is called Phantom Load. A study by the US Environmental Protection Agency reveals Phantom Loads to be up to 10% of the monthly energy bill. With home automation, these can be turned off and remove those pesky 10% Phantom load bills. Smart appliances can turn themselves off based on activity and usage, thus saving a considerable amount of energy and electricity. When TV is automated, it can sense period of inactivity and turn off the appliance thereby conserving energy. Furthermore, many appliances nowadays have built-in data features which clock the amount of energy used by that appliance. These “cool” home automation hacks can definitely prevent the energy meter from exceeding the monthly budget.

Smart Refrigeration

“Smart” refrigerators are beginning to gain popularity. “Smart” refrigerators, come with a host of features making life simple and really SMART. For example, when you buy groceries or vegetables and stock up the refrigerator, it maintains an inventory of the same. It will immediately inform the user when the item is going out of stock. Some smart refrigerators also maintain a check on the expiry dates of the food items, showing you when which item is most likely to expire, thus enabling you to replenish the same. This feature, like the climate control saves energy by keeping food fresh and ensuring a healthy life.

Automation for gardening

Home automation has also stepped into the garden. Many homes have gardens that need to be watered. Using sprinklers is one of the most common ways of irrigating the garden. However, it comes at its own cost. Water, being a precious resource, needs to be conserved and taken care of. However, with normal sprinklers, there ensues a considerable amount of water wastage due to improper positioning of the sprinkler, excess watering and so many other factors. Smart sprinklers can also forecast weather and predict rain so that the sprinkler can turn itself off without manual intervention and can also help choose zones, type of irrigation, and many more.

Smart Energy Meter

Manual tracking of power consumption can be a tedious task. But help is at hand with Smart Energy Meters. The Smart Energy Meter is a device which uses IoT and a lot of electronics systems to determine how much electricity has been used by a particular house and stores the data on the system. This data can then be remotely accessed by the Electricity Supply Corporation resulting in significant saving of time and cost. The users too can get an idea of their monthly consumption. Environment and cost conscious users can thus determine the most optimum way of using electricity.

It is no surprise that Home Automation has taken the world by storm. With increasing need for energy and cost conservation, home automation is certainly the future technology for homes. With inventions continuously happening in this field, what automation can do – the sky is the limit. Although this space has come a long way, it still needs a little more fine tuning. One of the biggest threat this segment poses is cyber-security. But technology is fast evolving and it will not be long before the systems are made fool-proof and completely secure