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Using Technology In Your Home To Save Energy

By Kevin Cain

In this month’s Green Property Trader we thought it would be a good idea to highlight how new technology can save energy around the home and be a good investment. At present this sort of technology is usually used to bring a Wow factor to your home but to coin a regularly used phrase in the property world :ROI (Return on Investment), this technology can be used to conserve energy in the home and save money.

The ROI would be the time it takes to recoup the initial cash outlay for installation and product by the reduction and savings in fuel bills. For instance one of the more popular products to create energy is that of Solar Panels, on average a 5 kw system costs US$ 25,000. It could take a matter of three-seven years depending on usage to recoup that outlay but once recouped it would then produce. in effect free electricity.

However even without solar panels there are things you can do to immediately to cut energy costs and conserve energy. Heating, cooling and lighting being three of the most exorbitant ways to burn power and money.

Simply turning off lights and turning down thermostats will automatically reduce your energy consumption. The problem usually being that as fallible human beings we often forget to do what is necessary. This is where technology can help, take out the human element and often you also reduce mistakes.

What if your lights automatically turned themselves off when nobody was in the room, or during daylight hours were timed not to be on ? The same with your heating and air conditioning, if your thermostats could adjust themselves with climate change then you would never need to touch them.

In reality all you need in order to have control of these elements are timers, thermostats, relays and dimmers.

In a new build property installing such items is relatively cheap and ROI is pretty quick. Most mortgage companies are now happy to include this technology as part of the mortgage as it is perceived to add value to the home as well as cutting monthly bills. The monthly energy savings will more than compensate for the extra increase in the mortgage. However the big problem occurs when you try to retro-fit this type of equipment in an existing dwelling, quite often it is necessary to wait for a major refurbishment or upgrade as usually cabling is needed to connect individual components together.

  • Timers

Really self explanatory, a timer will control the times when a specific piece of hardware is turned off and on.Timers have to be used in conjunction with relays or dimmers to be really effective and to control several appliances at the same time. For instance an oven timer will switch your cooker on to have your dinner ready for you when you return home. This is usually a stand alone bit of kit that only controls your cooker but if it were also connected to every light circuit in your house then you could switch on or off your lights with it as well.

  • Relays

Relays are switches that open and close circuits electronically, they control one electrical circuit by opening and closing contacts in another circuit.

What is connected to the relays can therefore be controlled either remotely or electronically.

  • Dimmers

Dimmers are devices to lower the brightness of a light, if connected to your lighting circuits they can reduce the amount of energy used.

  • Light Sensors

These devices measure either internal or external light and then send a signal to the relays or dimmers to respond in a programmed reaction. With the above items installed in your property you can start to make your home Smart and this means you can set off a series of pre-programmed events in response to external influences.

Light sensors can be set to turn off lights in a room if nobody is present or to reduce the brightness as the ambient light increases. So if you know that nobody will be at home at a certain hour then a timer can turn off all the lights at a specific time.

If thermostats are connected to relays and timers then this enables you to control the heating accordingly. And if this equipment is connected to the outside world via web access then you can control your house remotely.

Installation of such equipment will dramatically reduce your energy usage and if you also have solar panels installed then you are really talking about serious cost reduction. As a consequence, if your energy usage is lowered significantly then only a relatively modest solar panel system will be required to power the system and then the ROI is pretty fast for all the equipment.

This technology is available now there are many manufacturers and installers who will guarantee its performance and durability.

It may be a step into the dark for the uninitiated but really the way past this is to do as much research as you possibly can. Learn to understand the technology and what it is capable of achieving and then look at your own home. What uses the most power? Where are you throwing money away? How much would it cost to address? And what is the ROI for your outlay?

Believe me the days of going around every room to turn the lights off after the kids have gone out is gone. Let technology take the hassle out of your energy consumption so you can focus on more pressing matters.