According to various reports, home automation control systems such as Control4 or Clipsal C-Bus are not only becoming a necessary amenity in any high-end home, but it seems they have also become the new weapon in the war to fight global warming.
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Therefore the premise is that these systems can also minimise or eliminate the wasted energy from lights left on by accident, redundant loads from home equipment in the “off” state, thermostats set too high or low for usage patterns or climate conditions.
And with new “smart metering” technology on the way, homeowners are now able to monitor how much energy individual household devices use.
In the US for example, so-called Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) are expected to surge in home and building applications with more than a third of US power meters communicating with power companies by 2013.
According to veteran interior designer Ann Porter writing in marconews.com, “while the usual home security, entertainment and lighting control, automated fire containment and alarm, burglar deterrence, etc. are all important, the application in energy use monitoring and utility management will be immense”.
Porter notes that, “nearly 70 per cent of the average household utility bill could be influenced by WSN application to temperature and lighting. Homeowners can use interactive energy management tools to create energy management profiles that are triggered by certain established consumption rates. As energy consumption exceeds a specific point, the WSN can automatically begin turning off low priority lighting, heating, and cooling zones, using wireless humidity and temperature sensors as well as lighting and access monitors. Wireless outdoor motion sensors could remain active while other specific energy consumers could be dimmed”.
And according to local Home Automation technology vendor Crestron, lighting is one issue where the power savings can be directly measured.
The company has launched its Crestron Green Light system – a complete line of lighting, HVAC, and shade/drape control for both commercial and residential applications, which says the company, is “designed to maximise energy conservation and cost savings”.
The company notes that the system provides users the “flexibility of both precise manual control of all systems and devices, and customized levels of automation to achieve advanced features such as light harvesting and load shedding”.
“Going green is nothing new for Crestron -we’ve designed and manufactured environmentally efficient solutions for decades,” said Randy Klein, Executive Vice President, Crestron.
Another power saving home automation concept is EcoManor, deisgned to fully monitor utility usage and manage various systems including: lighting, climate control, security, even water collection. All are monitored via 15-inch touchpanel manufactured by Crestron.
The EcoManor TPMC-15 shows the owners’ energy usage in real-time and lets them make changes individually or set the house to react automatically. The house can be set to Economy mode, Miser mode, or even Entertainment mode, if required.
The Victorian State Government in 2006 announced new smart electricity meters to cut power bills and reduce greenhouse gas emmisions would be trialed and rolled out across Victoria and that households and businesses would receive their new meters from 2008.
Since this announcement, another local company, AMX Australia has been monitoring the progress of the Victorian smart meter rollout and in May 2008 commenced communication with one of Australia’s largest manufacturer of smart meters, Electronic Design & Manufacturing International (EDMI), a worldwide company that manufactures a range of electronic smart meters and data loggers for use in various sectors of the power generation and distribution industry.
EDMI currently supply smart meters to Australian Utlilities such as Energex, which are currently being installed into new and existing homes and businesses throughout Victoria and nation-wide.
AMX says that it is working with EDMI to further develop the tools required for the seamless integration between EDMI Meters and AMX NetLinx Controllers.
At CEDIA 2008 AMX showcased the first ever live demonstration of the EDMI Smart Meter integrating with the AMX NetLinx Controller in a residential environment.
Custom installation specialists say when it comes to energy management, the most popular areas of home control are lighting and climate and technology it seems could well be a way of not only making a house more comfortable but the planet as a whole as well.