Smart home systems, with their extensive automation, sensing, and remote control capabilities, offer a lot of environmental benefits. If you’re not yet sure why this matters, consider that making your home more efficient will save you money as well as affect your carbon footprint. There are many ways to go about reducing your carbon footprint, and implementing smart tech in your home is a good place to start. Here are some of the ways you can use smart home devices to conserve energy and natural resources.
Smart thermostats are programmable, but the most advanced ones go beyond that, actually sensing what’s happening in the environment and adjusting to your behaviors. Simple programmable ones will help you save energy by kicking on the heat or AC only when you need it and adjusting the temperature when no one’s home. They offer more advanced programming than previous generations of programmable thermostats so you can set them for both weekday and weekend schedules, and you can also control them from your phone as plans change.
Some smart thermostats can sense if a door is left open and turn off the system in response, or even learn your heating/cooling preferences. Others can be connected to sensors in your home to trigger them to start or stop the HVAC system.
Speaking of sensors, there are various types of smart home sensors available for almost anything imaginable, such as light and temperature sensors, which will turn off lights and thermostats in case you forget. Leak sensors can be placed in out-of-the-way locations to catch leaks before you’d see evidence of them, saving you money in repairs and preventing water from being wasted.
The SmartThings motion sensor, for instance, can be placed anywhere in your home and programmed to turn on lights, set security alarms, adjust portable heating or AC, and other things based on your motion. Devices like this make forgetting to turn the heat down, the lights off, or the alarm on a thing of the past. Contact sensors can be placed anywhere something opens and closes to alert you if someone has accidentally left a window open or the fridge door isn’t shut.
Have a garden to water? Studies have found that smart irrigation systems can conserve from 30% to 50% of water used for this purpose. They do this by tailoring watering schedules to the needs of the landscaping and sensing environmental changes (an unexpected rainshower, for instance) that changes a garden’s needs, among other things.
There are a couple of types of smart irrigation systems, weather-based and soil moisture sensor systems. Weather-based controllers get hooked up to a network so they can monitor local weather conditions. Soil moisture sensors, as the name indicates, measure soil moisture content and transmit this information to a controller that determines when and for how long watering will happen.
Smart lighting has a couple of components: the bulbs themselves and networked systems that provide automated or remote control of the lights being on or off. Start with smart lighting by replacing regular bulbs with something like Philips Hue bulbs, They’re LED, which is much more energy efficient, and offer remote control. Many of them offer temperature ranges, as well, so you can adjust the lighting environment as your needs change throughout the day. What’s more, LED bulbs are mercury-free; even efficient CFLs still contain this hazardous substance.
With a smart lighting system, you can remotely turn off the light in your kid’s room if they fell asleep without doing so, program lights to go on/off at certain times when you’re on vacation to give the appearance of being home without running them 24/7, and otherwise customize your lighting environment to provide only what you need while you need it.
Sometimes people forget how much of an effect passive cooling and heating via your windows can affect the indoor temperature. Smart window treatments can be hooked up to systems like Alexa and Google Home so they automatically adjust based on the time of day and your needs.
Such devices can provide energy conservation by taking some of the load off the HVAC system to maintain a steady temperature as well as helping out in other ways. For instance, if you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, smart blinds can open when your alarm goes off so the morning sun can help wake you up. Blinds adjust themselves to block out sun in the summer and let it in during the winter. You can buy custom sets or upgrade your current window treatments with a kit.
These are just a few ways smart home devices can be used for energy efficiency as well as increased convenience. The environmental difference such devices provide is not negligible, and neither is the cost savings: An EPA study found that just using a smart thermostat offered anywhere from a 10 to 30% savings on energy bills. Home electricity and water conservation, when implemented on a large scale, has the potential to significantly affect the pace of climate change. Start simple with a few smart light bulbs, or jump in with a central control hub such as Alexa and outfit your home with the range of smart devices available on the market.