If you haven’t already heard Home Automation is the new must have in design and modernisation. There’s loads of benefits other than just looking cool, the main one being the possibility of huge energy savings with home automation.
We’re going to take you through the 6 incredibly-easy (and cheap) ways that a normal guy used to save 19% on his family energy bills within 12 months.
But first if you don’t know what home automation is, basically it’s what you get if you cross your smartphone and your house.
It’s about installing a ‘brain’ for your home.
A brain that knows when to put the heating on, when you want your morning coffee or which music to play to you as you move around the house.
It learns and can program pretty much anything in your home to be automated, security, temperature or anything connected to a plug socket, there’s a full breakdown here if you need more clarification of what it is.
He’s a family man, a couple of little ‘Daves’ and a Mrs Dave at home causing havoc most of the day. His energy bills cost him a small fortune so he wanted to do something about.
After doing some basic research he decided rather than force his family back to the stone ages, he’d investigate home automation energy savings.
Just as well he did.
Here’s exactly what Dave did, a bonus that he’s added since and how it effected his life for the better while also saving him 19% on his energy bills within 12 months.
Unfortunately it didn’t end up that way. It was an easy and ‘if I can’t see it, it isn’t happening’ approach to managing your energy. Even the most savvy users were only able to save 6%.
53% of installed programmable thermostats were not being used as intended, the majority were simply turning on and off their heating manually, so it was obsolete.
Dave does not need to program his heating to come on at 5pm so the house is nice when he gets home as the system knows he’s 20 mins up the motorway and automatically does it, whether he is early, late or not even home that night it will adjust so it’s efficient.
It also knows when Dave and the kids lay in on a Saturday and doesn’t come on until they rise from bed, just to make sure it isn’t too chilly.
I save just over £100 a year thanks to Smart Thermostats. – Dave.
There are thousands of Smart Thermostats options, some do more than others but it’s really a personal preference, best place for prices and comparison is Amazon.
Our personal preference is the Hive group of products, there’s something for everyone.
While heating and cooling technologies take up the majority of the energy expenditure, lighting makes up around 11% of your yearly bills.
According to research up to a third of that lighting is unnecessary.
Lighting automation was high on Dave’s list of home automation energy saving projects for good reason.
Though motion sensors have been around for decades, the technology used in home automation is far more advanced at sensing people nearby. Detecting motion, sound and even heart beats to ensure they’re amazingly accurate.
This means you can actually automate your home lighting to turn off and on as you walk around the house. No wasted light.
You know what kids are like, running around various rooms and leaving lights on all over. Automated lighting completely eliminates this. – Dave.
Dave estimates that he saves £180 per year thanks to automated lighting systems.
Smart Power Strips
These smart power strips are the definitive end to energy sapping electronics.
Smart power strips can be used alongside your living room electronics systems to either turn them off completely when you’re not in the room or to switch them to standby, when you come back in guess what? They come back on.
Smart strips work in conjunction with motion sensors triggered when there is no-one in the room.
I thought these would be fairly annoying at first, turning off the football when I leave etc. But, you really do not notice, by the you’ve walked in and sat down your program is back on. – Dave.
Dave saves £150 a year using smart power strips.
There are hundreds of Smart Power Strip options, generally they’re fairly similar to each other and if we’re honest they will usually be hidden behind TV’s etc so design isn’t really an issue. The best place for prices and comparison is Amazon.
Automatic timers are stalwarts of home automation.
They can be used for hundreds of different appliances for both convenience and energy saving.
For example you can set it up to automatically boil the kettle when you’re about to get up.
If security is your thing, you could get different lights around the house to come on when you’re out, looking like someone is home.
Though, as energy saving is on the agenda here the best use for automatic timers would be to turn all electronics off at certain times of the day when no-one is home or asleep.
It saves me energy, about £75 per year, but also gives me an excuse to give the kids a curfew on TV watching. – Dave.
You’ve seen them in films in lush apartment blocks of the stars but in reality they serve an incredible purpose for home automation.
There’s a couple of practical situations where your curtains or blinds opening and closing automatically saves loads of time, money and energy.
For example, in the Summer rather than needing your lights to come on when you wake. You’re curtains opening will give you some natural light.
Also when there’s loads of sunlight glaring in to your rooms, it can quickly heat up, sending your air conditioning in to meltdown. Auto-closing those blinds can stop that completely, saving all important energy for your air con.
This can be set to happen at certain times of the day or sensors that trigger when levels of light are reached.
I only use this in the master bedroom as it gets Sun all day and send my AC haywire. – Dave.
Dave is saving about £25 a year using automated curtains and blinds, but it’s only in one room, so you could do so much more.
You can get automatic blinds or curtains fitted or you can trigger them with a unit between your current automatic blinds and your power unit.
Something often overlooked in most houses, let alone those of the automated kind, are ceiling fans.
These are great at circulating air, whether that is hot or cold.
Meaning if makes your heating and air con more effective when it’s in place.
Using these fans when your AC or heating system comes on (automatically of course) will increase effectiveness by around 15% depending on the size of your house.
So by triggering the ceiling fans to come on at the same time will cut the amount of time you need to heat or cool your house.
I was shocked by how effective a simple ceiling fan was. It heats up and cools down the house so much better. – Dave.
Bonus – “All Off” Switch
Basically it does what it says on the tin.
Installed near your front and back door, an “all off” switch is a master off button and will turn off everything in your house that has been set up in one go.
There’s no need for walking around to check everything is off, just one button. It will even tell you if all the windows are shut upstairs, saving you a walk around or lots of energy in heating while you’re away.
These are quite expensive but, Dave has added one recently and in a fitting ending to this article left us this quote:
I’d debated a master switch for ages but couldn’t see why i’d need it when everything else is automated anyway. But I use it all the time, if i’m away for the night, if I just want to make sure all the windows are shut upstairs, would recommend it’s the final piece to any home automation project. – Dave.
There are a few good master switch options available on Amazon, again, they seem to be the best place for prices and comparing online at the moment.