Energy Management Technology: Is it Really Worth the Investment?

With energy costs on the rise and energy crises becoming a more threatening possibility, we are all looking for ways to lower our energy consumption. Energy management and efficiency have become buzz words in the media recently. There are many new affordable technologies that require very little effort to incorporate in the home. Other gadgets and systems can seem like a pricey investment, but are the savings they provide really worth it? I think so and here is why.

Most energy management systems work to reduce your home's energy consumption in the following ways:

  • Meter your home’s energy consumption to track usage.
  • Based on results of metering, replacing equipment such as lighting and incorporating new equipment such as programmable thermostats to increase energy efficiency.
  • Tracking your progress to determine how well the management is working.

With the increase of offerings in the energy management market, these technologies are available at much more affordable rates. When combined with the savings they provide, they often pay for themselves in the first few months.

The Numbers on Energy Management

Lights

Residential energy cost in the US

One of the first energy management initiatives was the push to turn off the lights when leaving a room. The truth is that this simple step actually does save you money. 10-20% of total household energy consumption can be trimmed by turning off lights in unoccupied rooms. The problem is that we forget to do it. With energy management technology, you can install motion sensors that turn lights on and off as you enter and exit a room. Some companies even provide a system that allows you to remotely turn off lights that were mistakenly left on using your smartphone, tablet or computer. You don’t even have to do a
walk-through before leaving for  vacation, and you’ll save money while you’re away.

Another technology with quick payoff is energy-efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are about 75% more efficient than standard lighting. This means that your average lighting costs of $264 annually(for the average U.S. household) will be reduced to $66. When you combine this savings with the fact that you will buy one-tenth the amount of light bulbs, this change clearly pays for itself, despite the fact that a CFL bulb costs about $3 compared to about 75 cents for a standard bulb.

Phantom Energy

Did you know that many of your household appliances are pulling energy even when they are not turned on? A study done by Energy Star says that this “phantom energy” costs the average American household about $100 per year. There are power strips that cost under $100, which can “unplug” appliances that are turned off. To know which appliances are pulling this energy, you can buy a usage monitor for about $25, also a worthwhile investment.

Heating and Cooling

The majority of home energy costs are a result of the efficiency of our heating and cooling system and the way we manage our thermostats. Studies show that by reducing the heating or cooling of our homes 10-15 degrees while we are away can reduce costs by 5-15% or an average of about $25 per month.

With an energy management system in place, you can program your thermostat so that you save money while you are at work, sleeping or on vacation. Even better, if plans change, continue saving while you stay at work longer or spend an extra few days on vacation. Simply access your thermostat from your smartphone to change the settings.

Total Savings

There are many options when it comes to making your home more energy efficient. You can start with a few inexpensive gadgets or create an entire system with a home automation company. No matter where you begin, it’s evident that the savings will return on your investment in just a short time. You can also follow Vivint's Twitter feed to get the latest home automation ideas.