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Does Home Automation Technology Really Save Energy?

Updated: Jun 4

Smart Lighting - Smart Curtain - Smart Shutters - Smart Temperature Control - Smart Circuit Breaker


What could be the potential energy saving from using Smart Thermostat for temperature control, Smart Lighting, and Circuit-Level Control


The potential energy saving from having home automation system

Control smart home from centralized control panel

Home automation technologies use connectivity, sensing, and controls to provide consumer benefits, such as enhanced comfort, control, convenience, and security. These benefits reflect consumer priorities and are driving the rapid increase in adoption. Collectively, networked home automation systems can enable sensor- and user-driven control of HVAC systems, appliances, lighting, outlets, home security, webcams, home energy displays, home performance analytics, and beyond. By controlling these systems, home automation technologies can strongly influence home energy consumption.


So, let's deep in and evaluate the potential energy saving for the main home automation approaches



Potential Energy Saving From The Smart Home Automation System


Home automation technology provide several benefits to the homeowners, our concerned topic here is to evaluate the potential energy saving across the different home automation applications i.e. Temperature Control, or HVAC control, Smart Curtains or Shutters, Smart Lighting Control, and Smart Circuit-Level Control and how worthy it is to invest in


Potential Energy Saving from Smart Thermostats

Potential Energy Saving from Smart Shutters Control

Potential Energy Saving from Smart Lighting

Potential Energy Saving from Circuit-Level Control


 

Potential Energy Saving from Smart Thermostats


Smart thermostats allow users to access and control their thermostat remotely over a wireless network, for instance, using a smartphone, tablet, computer, or other connected device. These features, not available in traditional unconnected manual or programmable thermostats, give users added control and flexibility that could improve thermal comfort and potentially save energy.


Control your room temperature from smart temperature thermostat

In addition, Smart Thermostats can make automatic adjustments based on external signals that could lead to energy savings. Features like automatic temperature setbacks – driven by occupancy sensing, geolocation, or learning algorithms – aim to reduce energy used during periods of vacancy or sleeping. Other features apply behavioral feedback to encourage people to choose more energy-efficient settings.


Automated controls could also improve the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment under specific conditions. Examples include strategies to minimize the use of inefficient auxiliary electric resistance heating for heat pump systems, fan overrun for air conditioners to recover residual cooling after the compressor has switched off, fault detection and diagnostics, and the ability to respond to changes in weather or utility demand response signals. Since feature sets vary widely by product, there can be wide variation in potential and realized energy savings among products. Savings can also vary widely among users of a specific connected thermostat product, owing to differences in occupancy patterns, thermal preferences, HVAC systems, and housing characteristics. Check out our Universal IR Controller for Air Condition along with the other smart sensors



Potential Energy Saving from Smart Shutters Control


Window coverings, such as blinds, shades, shutters, and curtains, influence heating, cooling, and lighting energy consumption of homes by altering the transmission of solar gains, natural light, and to some extent, heat transfer through windows. The effect on these end-uses depends on control strategy, together with many building-specific parameters. Automated window covering control could improve the energy performance of complex and interrelated building systems relative to manual control.


Automated smart curtain or shades systems typically include a motorized device that can adjust position. Some can be installed with existing shades or blinds. Architecture varies from standalone, self-contained units to systems with wireless mesh networks that are controlled centrally or through a server. Adjustments can be made through an interface (wall switch, remote control, smart phone, tablet, etc.), automatically through mobile app or scenario-based controls, or manually through physical adjustment.


The energy impact of window coverings depends strongly on many complex and interrelated variables, including climate; window covering material, properties, and geometry; amount and type of windows; building properties; thermostat settings; and especially the covering control strategy. Energy savings also depend on how precisely the coverings are installed. A gap of a few inches around the window perimeter, for instance, could compromise savings. The vast combination of variables leads to a higher uncertainty when estimating the potential energy impact.


Control your smart home shutter from smart tablet app

Smart Curtains Control Strategies


Today most window coverings in homes are controlled manually and lack automated capabilities; however, automated control can help occupants achieve specific goals such as increased energy performance, thermal comfort, visual comfort, privacy, and security. Some systems may increase the resale value of the home. Energy savings is rarely the highest customer priority, so it is unlikely that people will optimize energy savings at the expense of these other benefits. Still, automation can help people achieve energy savings while respecting their preferences.


Although there are many possible control strategies, these are common high-level approaches:

  1. Manual Control: physically adjust curtains/shades at will

  2. Scheduled Automation: adjust curtains/shades at predetermined times to programmed levels

  3. Feedback Automation: curtains, shades and/or lights respond to sensors, external data (weather, occupancy, etc.), or utility demand response programs

  4. Scenes: user defines one or more settings and controls multiple actions at once (e.g., all smart curtains open and smart lights dim; all shades open and smart lights turn on, adjust shutters in all rooms, etc.)


Most automated window curtains or shutters can be programmed with user-defined schedules, allowing each unit to change states at designated times. Smart curtains or smart shutters can be grouped together into “collections” to be controlled simultaneously or according to similar rules. Various criteria can be used, depending on what information or sensors are available and on the user’s goals or preferences. This feedback could originate from sensors that measure occupancy, space temperature, or light levels, or it could come from control hub such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant that provide access to data about weather, HVAC, and lighting systems.


Users may select rule-based “if-this-then-that” methods or more sophisticated algorithms that attempt to optimize energy, comfort, and privacy settings within the constraints of user preferences.



Potential Energy Saving from Smart Lighting


Smart lighting control aligns lighting usage with occupant presence in one of two ways. Occupancy-based control senses when a space becomes occupied and automatically turns on the lights in response. In contrast, vacancy-based control relies on people to turn on the lights when they enter a space and subsequently turns off the lights when occupancy is no longer detected. In practice, we believe that occupants would prefer using vacancy-based lighting control systems in most interior spaces because it is more aligned with how people typically operate lights in the home (i.e., manually turning on lights when they enter a space). For instance, bedroom and hallway lights that turn on when people awaken in the middle of the night.


control your smart lighting from mobile app

Occupancy-based lighting controls fundamentally save energy by turning off lights when spaces are not occupied. To evaluate energy savings potential requires comparing lighting usage patterns to occupancy patterns in different household spaces. Importantly, both variables and total lamp power vary as a function of space type


Fully networked lighting control systems also have the potential to monitor lighting usage and energy consumption, which can be used to provide feedback on energy consumption and identify energy savings opportunities. Connected systems also increase customer convenience (i.e., remote wireless control of lighting) and can enable households to create and implement different mood or scene settings that enhance the indoor environment. This functionality could also be used to mimic an occupied home while the home is unoccupied, providing a security function. Occupancy-based control of exterior lights can also provide security benefits by triggering lights when motion is detected, potentially deterring would-be thieves or vandals. It may also enhance personal safety by ensuring that outdoor areas are lit when people are present, likely reducing the risk of injury.


The demand response potential of occupancy-based lighting controls in homes is very limited because, by definition, the technology only turns on – or, in the case of a vacancy sensor, keeps the lights on – in spaces when they are occupied. Moreover, only about 2% of daily lighting energy consumption occurs in each of the hours during peak demand periods, i.e., typically noon to 6PM, in June, July, and August, yielding an average lighting power draw of approximately 50W. Consequently, turning off unneeded lighting left on or dimming (if possible) connected lighting during peak demand periods would achieve a very modest peak demand reduction.


Potential Energy Saving from Circuit-Level Control


Many electric devices consume power when they are in idle, sleep, standby, or off modes. In addition, people sometimes leave devices on (in active mode) when they are not being used, such as leaving a television on while no one is watching or listening. With an appropriate sensing system, circuit-level controls can intelligently disable the circuits powering these devices to save energy without compromising ordinary functionality. Both occupancy- and time-based approaches could be implemented with web-based user interfaces such as TUYA mobile app and controllers that, in turn, integrate with networked and controllable circuit-breaker panels that switch on and off individual circuits.


monitor your energy consumption with a smart circuit breaker

Circuit-level controls could reduce consumer electronics (CE) energy consumption. First, they could turn off CE that are in a sleep or standby power mode, reducing the power draw of the devices connected to each circuit to that of the standby power draw of the circuit-level controller. Second, they could turn off devices that have been unintentionally left on after a period without user input. Field and modeling studies suggest that this functionality dramatically increases the energy savings potential by about 350%, most notably by reducing the on time of computers and televisions.


Many appliances (such as Cooktop, Stove, Dishwasher, Clothes Washer/Dryer) have controls, power supplies, and displays or clocks that draw 2 to 3 W continuously. In an aggressive case, circuit-level control would power off these devices when they are not running, i.e., typically all but one or two hours a day. A manual wall controller would be used to turn back on the circuit as needed to operate different appliances. In addition, Ceiling fans appear to have the greatest energy savings potential of common loads, specifically from occupancy-based power-down of fans when the spaces they condition are unoccupied. Although some ceiling fans do have occupancy sensors, it appears that most do not. Based on the survey responses, it appears that approximately 39% of ceiling fan usage occurs when rooms are unoccupied. Interestingly, this is like our estimate for the energy savings potential of occupancy-based lighting controls in homes.


control your traditional appliances in a smart way for energy saving

Moreover, it has been evaluated the potential savings from powering off coffee makers, toasters, and toaster ovens when not in use. Only a portion of these products draw power when not in active use, and the analyses take this into account. Of these devices, coffee makers may be able to realize significant additional savings by eliminating some portion of the energy consumed in idle (warming) mode when they draw about 70 W. It is not immediately clear, however, how detection of excess warming energy consumption would be implemented and integrated with circuit-level control. Check out our Energy management products


smart plug for smart control appliances


Conclusion


Home automation technology offers the potential to achieve substantial energy savings if they are used for that purpose. In this article, we evaluated the technical energy savings potential of several home automation approaches relative to the baseline of household energy consumption. Beyond energy savings, home automation offers benefits to both consumers and utilities. For consumers, these include greater convenience, control, thermal and visual comfort, privacy, and security. For utilities, home automation could enable demand response capabilities, streamline evaluation for energy efficiency programs, and remotely diagnose and detect retrofit opportunities. teknetic can support you in designing an eco-automation system for a significant energy saving at your home



 


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