There are several ways home automation technology can save energy. Increasing heating and cooling efficiency, eliminating unnecessary lighting, and controlling electronics in "sleep" mode are just some of the ways that you can do your part for the environment while creating an efficient and pleasant home.
Heating and Cooling
The introduction and wider use of programmable digital thermostats in the 1980s and 1990s was supposed to dramatically decrease energy consumption, but the reality falls somewhat short. Not only were those units sometimes difficult to set up and re-program, it's estimated that as many as 50% of programmable thermostats are left in the "hold" setting - meaning they work just like standard manual thermostats.
The Nest learning smart thermostat is a significant improvement.
Easy to program, with flexible and precise scheduling that can lower your heating and cooling energy consumption during peak rate times or while you're away, and the ability to control from anywhere. The smart thermostat saves energy and money by being intuitive to use and automate. And even if you never program it, the Nest thermostat can learn your preferences and occupancy patterns and adjust itself to save energy.
By some estimates, 35% of the lighting used in homes is unnecessary. Forgotten lighting is a source of energy waste in a lighting system in places like storage rooms, laundry rooms, small bathrooms, garages, and other parts of the house that don't see regular use. Motion sensors installed in these areas allow the lights to turn on automatically when you enter, remain on while you're there and then turn off automatically after you exit. Convenient for places you often walk into with your hands full, and a great way to reduce energy use.
Switching to LED lighting from conventional incandescent or fluorescent lights can also make a big difference in energy consumption. But so can installing Lutron dimmers. No matter which lighting technology you use, dimming combined with motion sensing to control lights can result in a 60% reduction in lighting energy use.
See Lutron's Top 10 Energy Saving Benefits of Light Control for more details.
Appliances and Electronics
TVs, computers and other modern electronics consume power even when they are "off" or in sleep mode. Removing power to those items during off-hours (midnight to 4am or while you're at work) can save energy and extend the life of the components themselves. Electric or gas water heaters can also be controlled by an automation system and allow you to stop heating water at times when you never use it, or while you're away for longer periods.
One often overlooked environmental impact of the average home is the waste (both from disposal of damaged materials and production of their new replacements) caused by unnecessary renovations and repairs due to floods and freezing. A flood/freeze detector in each bathroom and in the utility room can give flood warnings early enough to allow the homeowner to shut off the water supply before damage to floors, trim, drywall and furniture occurs. A flood detector installed at the sump pump can warn the homeowner in case of a pump failure, long before that failure causes an expensive flood. These smart components also provide information in non-emergency situations, giving the homeowner data on humidity and temperature levels. Finishing your basement? Have us install humidity and flood detectors at the base of your wall with the sensor behind the drywall for information about a foundation leak long before it becomes visible or leads to mold.