An inconvenient, yet not so subtle truth: consumers don’t care about energy usage.
The many comforts and amenities modern homes offer today trump environmental concerns more often than not, especially when it comes to energy use.
When was the last time you unplugged your phone charger when it wasn’t in use to save energy? A simple and mindless task it may be, conserving energy likely does not top the list of concerns when at home.
Thankfully, there’s help from technology in the way consumers approach energy use in their homes. As smart technologies and connected devices become a bigger part of our homes and everyday lives, consumers are confronted with the impact of their usage, and many are willing to change their behaviors.
A recent study found that 78 percent of people ranked energy management as one of the top features that matter to them in a smart home, and 42.5 percent of them would be very interested in replacing their thermostat with one that automatically adjusts when the home is unoccupied. These gadgets and tools are integrating energy management into a platform that customers are eager to engage with. And with access to information like energy use, cost, and savings, people are able to make real-time changes without dramatically affecting their everyday lives.
New apps and smart devices are giving feedback to homeowners about which devices consume the most energy, when it’s most cost effective to run big appliances, and even allowing them to control appliances from their smart devices. Gone are the days where leaving the air conditioner on while away from home was your only option if you wanted to return from work to a cooled space.
Now, there are both apps and devices that let you set rules for your appliances to follow, for example, ‘Turn the AC on at 3 p.m.’, or simply hitting the “on” switch from a smartphone on the drive home to get the cool air flowing. There are so many ways for people to interact with their homes, and soon consumers will be able to control just about everything inside of the home remotely.
Beware of vampire energy.
What pushed me to take control of my home energy use was when I realized how much money I was wasting every month due to vampire energy.
Vampire energy is energy that’s being used even when your device is turned off.
The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off (or in standby mode). On a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs. (Source: EPA)
I now use an app that integrates with Monster Plugs to let me control my TV, game console and printer (the three biggest vampire energy culprits) remotely. There are simple solutions to problems like vampire energy, and you might even find that being able to turn off the PS3 from your phone has added benefits, like ensuring your kids do their homework or spend quality time with the family.
We’re not powerless.
Maybe the lack of effort in home energy conservation stems from the idea that people are powerless and not in control.
Yes, turning the lights off helps, but does everyone in the family remember that rule? And it’s easier for everyone to leave the TV plugged in overnight, as opposed to powering it up every morning after we wake up. However, we are entering an age where technology is empowering us to take control over our homes and our energy use, not only to save money on our bills each month, but also to do our small part to conserve our planet’s resources.
Though technology is one of the major squanderers of energy, the truth is that it will be the force to compel us to care about energy use again.
David Moss is a co-founder of People Power Co. and has over 14-years of experience in wireless sensornets, electrical engineering, computer science, embedded systems, and technology integration with business development. David is the author of several pending patents at People Power, and a co-author on the “Collection Tree Protocol.” He previously worked with Rincon Research Corporation, leading the sensornet engineering team to architect and deploy miniature low-power wireless sensors. As a Java developer and firmware engineer, David also worked with Bitfone Corporation to integrate Bitfone’s Over-the-Air Firmware Updates into tens of millions of Motorola cell phones that are currently shipping around the world.
Listen to the latest Green Divas At Home podcast for more ways to go green at home…
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