Besides supporting everybody’s lifestyle, smart homes also have a large effect on the natural environment.
Measuring this impact is not straightforward and simple, and research is still ongoing. One of the most interesting studies was conducted in Finland a few years ago with the aim to develop a simulation tool for the measuring of electricity consumption within detached houses.* The research has shown that automation can have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the peak load and shifting some of the energy consumption from day to night.
This concept surely sounds familiar. Everyone remembers how our mothers used to do laundry at night when electricity is cheaper and then wake up earlier to hang them before work. When it comes to home automation, the principle is the same, except that you don’t have to carry any burden of responsibility on your shoulders. This means that you do not even need to look at the clock to know when to turn on the washer. You don’t even need to keep track of varying electricity prices in different periods in a day. Why? Because the smart appliances will do it for you instead.
Let’s put it in numbers: an average household with four occupants emits 543 kilograms of carbon dioxide (kgCO) annually, while an average automatic household of four emits 473 kgCO. Needless to say, the difference of 70 kgCO is not exactly small for our environment.
But not every smart house is also green. They all carry this potential, but their environmental impact depends entirely on your choice of technical appliances included in the design.
The following is a “shopping list” you should consider in case you decide to automate your home.
You went to work and forgot to close the window, even though you know that the air-conditioner will start working sooner or later? No problem! With the right mobile app, you can turn off your air-conditioning in no time and thus prevent the unnecessary emissions of carbon dioxide. And this is just one of the benefits. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) claims that the use of an automated thermostat can cut the electricity usage by 10 to 30%.
As its name suggests, no longer will you have to worry whether you left the porch light on for too long. Smart lighting would not be so smart if it didn’t know when to stop shining.
The point of this fantastic (and unjustifiably unpopular) device is to lower the usage of air air-conditioners by adjusting the blinds to the sunlight in order to protect you from the heat during the warmest parts of the day.
Automated Irrigation System
Why would you be soaking wet while watering the garden if your house can do it a lot faster, better and with less water? Some of the automated irrigation systems can even be managed by phone apps or a wireless connection. The data shows that some appliances can reduce water consumption by 35%. Yup, this kind of saving can be measured in gallons!
Good news for the average consumer is the fact that today’s market offers a wide variety of smart devices which, each in its own way, simplify everyday life. This also entails the competition in prices, which makes home automation, so to speak, suited for everyone’s pocket.
The smart home is no longer a thing of the future, but a good investment. Just like you’d spend a few cents more on a decent light bulb because it will last longer, investing in a smart house is a smart way to reduce running costs. Not to mention the fact that it has a positive effect on the environment.
To find answers to more of these questions, keep in touch since we are preparing a series of seven articles covering all the smart home options. If you want these articles sent directly to your mailbox once per week, click HERE to subscribe.
*The research in question is called “Environmental Impacts and Benefits of Smart Home Automation: Life Cycle Assessment of Home Energy Management System“. It is written in 2015. by Jean-Nicolas Louis, Antonio Calo, Kauko Leiviskä and Eva Pongrácz. Evaluation is done by a generic Life Cycle Assessment method (LCA) used to analyze the environmental impacts of a product throughout its lifetime. A product life cycle starts from obtaining materials from nature and ends when the product is finally discarded.