How Sustainable Smart Home Technology Can Improve Your Green Credentials
By Diarmuid Hennessy
There’s no shortage of smart home technology available on the market nowadays. Smart speakers were among the first devices to find their way into homes, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In an age when the climate crisis dominates the headlines and energy costs are rising exponentially, smart home technology is becoming even more important.
By implementing smart lighting systems, advanced climate control, and renewable energy generation, we can all work to lessen our carbon footprint. Worried that all this smart home tech is going to send your energy costs through the roof? Don’t be. By connecting your home with smart devices, you can reduce your household energy usage by as much as 30%.
Temperature and Climate Control
One of the easiest ways you can make your home more eco-friendly is to invest in a smart thermostat. As well as lessening the impact of rising energy bills, smart thermostats can be very effective for reducing your carbon footprint.
Once a smart thermostat has been installed, you can synchronise your system to your mobile device. You’re then free to control temperature settings directly from your mobile or tablet. If you’ve recently jetted off on a long-overdue holiday and forget to adjust your thermostat, you can do this remotely. You can also make minor adjustments to heating and air conditioning systems if you’re stuck working late at the office.
More advanced systems will make automatic adjustments to your climate control systems. If someone leaves a door or window open during the summer months, a smart thermostat will shut down air conditioning units to ensure energy isn’t consumed unnecessarily. Furthermore, the best systems will keep track of your most regularly used settings and make automatic adjustments based on your preferences. Ultimately, you benefit from energy-efficient climate control that’s perfectly aligned with your routine.
The Benefits of Smart Lighting
It’s easy to overlook lighting when it comes to minimising our carbon footprints. Admittedly, lighting typically uses far less energy than other domestic utilities. However, you can dramatically improve your green credentials by making the switch to LED bulbs and smart lighting systems.
Lighting accounts for 15% of an average household electricity bill. Ditching incandescent bulbs and replacing them with LED alternatives can help bring your overall energy consumption down. Furthermore, LED bulbs will help you lower your carbon dioxide emissions. Provided you’re installing them throughout your home, LED bulbs can help you slash annual CO2 emissions by as much as 40kg.
In addition to consuming far less energy than incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs are far more durable. A typical LED bulb has a lifespan of around 50,000 hours. This makes them far more long-lasting than fluorescent and halogen bulbs. Although LED bulbs are generally more expensive, the cost savings on your energy bills more than compensate for this.
Smart Lighting Control
Smart lighting systems also benefit from advanced user control features. Once your system is installed, you can control all compatible fixtures and bulbs remotely. You can keep things simple by programming lights to turn on and off based on your daily schedule.
Furthermore, you can set up alerts to let you know via text if a light has been left on accidentally. This way, you’re putting less strain on your bulbs and using no more electricity than is required.
Keeping Track of Water Waste
In the United Kingdom, the average annual water bill stands at around £400. However, this can vary depending on what part of the country you’re based in. Your daily consumption will play a huge role in how much you end up paying. However, many of us grossly underestimate how much water we’re using. A recent study revealed that almost half of people believe they’re using less than 20 litres of water on a daily basis. In reality, an average household uses upwards of 500 litres per day.
If you think you’re paying over the odds for water, there are several pieces of smart home technology you can utilise. Wondering how much water your morning shower is using? A standard power shower can use as much as 13 litres of water per minute. A full bath can consume up to 80 litres of water.
A smart shower head makes a welcome upgrade to any bathroom. In addition to integrated Bluetooth technology, you’ll benefit from advanced temperature and water pressure monitoring. More importantly, a smart shower head will give you a clear idea of how much water you’re consuming.
Smart Irrigation Systems
It’s not just long showers that contribute to our daily water consumption. If you’re a keen gardener, there’s a good chance you’re doubling your daily consumption to ensure your flower beds and shrubs are looking their best.
Rather than reach for the hose pipe, consider whether your lawn and flower beds are as thirsty as you think. Many people are guilty of overwatering their gardens. If your greenery does need a helping hand, consider rainwater harvesting. Rain barrels are inexpensive and easy to install, providing you with a constant source of irrigation for your outdoor spaces.
If you’re eager to embrace automation, consider investing in a smart irrigation system. These systems take all of the guesswork out of gardening, ensuring your plants are only watered when they need to be. Smart irrigation technology will keep track of things like temperature levels and weather conditions. If you want to maintain some control over things, make use of timers to set watering schedules.
Smart Window Treatment Systems
Window treatments are often considered a superficial upgrade. However, they can form a crucial part of any smart home. Windows contribute a lot to heat loss. In some cases, more than 10% of the heat lost from your home can be attributed to your windows. This includes radiation through the glazing itself, as well as air leakage via vents and openings.
Thermal blinds and shades are therefore a must. Although standard window treatments can help combat heat loss and retain heat during the colder months, manual treatments aren’t particularly efficient. Smart window treatments are the only way to keep your home cool during the hotter months and warmer during the winter period. This puts less strain on your central heating systems and minimises your reliance on air conditioning. The result is lower energy bills and a more eco-friendly dwelling.
Invest in Smart Plugs
If you’re looking to make your home more eco-friendly on a budget, smart plugs are something to think about. These inexpensive plugs are a great option for those who can’t afford to swap out their favourite appliances with eco-friendly alternatives.
Smart plugs are a great first step in making the switch to eco-friendly living. For starters, they monitor how long you’re using your devices and let you know how much money you’re spending to run them. Are you guilty of regularly leaving televisions and other devices on standby? You’re in good company. The average UK household wasted an estimated £55 every year by leaving appliances on standby mode. Smart plugs will identify the worst offenders and allow you to make quick changes for easy gains.
Furthermore, most smart plugs can be programmed. If your energy supplier offers off-peak savings for electricity used at night, smart plug timers can help you save a small fortune. Timers also prevent you from using more energy than you need, ensuring you’re minimising the impact on the environment.
Utilise Renewable Energy
Reconsidering your energy supplier is a great way of ensuring you’re doing your bit for the environment. Switching to a green energy supplier is an easy way of making sure your home is as eco-friendly as possible.
If you have more of a budget to play with, you can overhaul your home energy usage by utilising renewable sources. Solar panels are the obvious solution. However, only around 970,000 UK homes are currently kitted out with solar panels. A domestic solar panel array can provide you with all the energy you’ll ever need. Surplus energy is stored in batteries for later use, while any excess energy you don’t use can be redistributed to the national electricity grid at a profit.
Searching for a renewable energy alternative to heat your home? There are a couple of obvious options. Solar panels can also be used to heat your hot water cylinder, although you’ll need sufficient roof space to accommodate the larger panels required. Heat pumps are another alternative. These are particularly sustainable and far more eco-friendly than conventional gas boilers. However, to reap the benefits of a renewable energy source, you’ll need to invest in smart home technology to minimise waste.
Start Living Sustainably Today
To achieve net-zero goals, all of us need to think seriously about how we power our homes and manage our energy consumption. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of ways to make eco-friendly living a reality.
In the UK, the Green Deal scheme provides homeowners with a variety of ways to finance investment in renewable energy generation like heat pumps and solar panels. Furthermore, homeowners can benefit from assistance with things like draught-proofing and insulation.
Renewable energy is only one part of a larger picture. To limit CO2 emissions and live sustainably, we need to be utilising smart home technology. If you haven’t installed them already, make sure smart plugs are a top priority. Next, think about upgrading your existing thermostat to a smart device that will monitor climate control and allow you to make adjustments remotely. Smart lighting is also an inexpensive way to limit domestic carbon emissions and reduce energy expenditure.
About The Author
Diarmuid Hennessy is the Operations Manager at HomeCheck, a property survey business helping homeowners all over Ireland.