Home energy management is a big issue when it comes to how individuals can lend value to the overall energy efficiency of communities. This is especially so because houses (and buildings in general) have been identified as being particularly big culprits in terms of energy inefficiency. So much so that a whole industry has come up on just how to make buildings more energy efficient.
This was a challenge initially because for many homes, trying to create energy efficiencies involves trying to find where that extra Kilowatt hour was disappearing to and we all know that isn’t very easy to do. Thankfully technology has again risen to the challenge to bring us smart (and amazing) energy monitoring tools that will forever change the face of home energy management as we know it. Here are two areas in home energy management that you should look out for.
Smart Heat Control
We have all heard about that amazing little learning thermostat called Nest and how it learns from our habits to control the temperature of the house. What you may not know is that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to smart heat control.
Existing smart thermostats such as Nest need human input to determine the temperature in the house and then learn to adjust it through a learning sequence. Future thermostats would have a more sophisticated approach like assigning temperature control to your body temperature. Can you imagine a thermostat that knows whether you are feeling cold or hot and adjusts the temperature accordingly?
How about a smart temperature control system that cross references this body data with your health records or the weather patterns in your area and creates smart temperature points that are tailor made for you as an individual? This could even go further to have individual microclimates within the house that are preferences for each individual in the home. What this will do in the long run is to remove all the speculation and haphazard management of temperature in the house to harness the more efficient and consistent algorithms of technological devices.
Integrated Home Energy Management
Intel has been developing what they call the Intelligent Home Energy Management system and it has all the makings of a Wizard of Oz sort of control of your home. The system takes into consideration all the appliances and energy points in your home enabling you to see your energy consumption on a granular level. You can be able to monitor the energy consumption of individual devices, remember to switch of mains switches before you leave the house, set certain parameters in energy management, among other things.
What these systems will do for home energy management is to make energy consumption a more transparent event in the home. For instance, you will know exactly which device or appliance is eating into your energy requirements and how to reduce this. In addition, intelligent homes will reduce the need to look at energy saving as a long process but rather as an integrated and streamlined event. On a more macro level, this information can be fed into a national database and processed to create smart energy usage statistics and other intelligence metrics that will turn every home into a smart data gathering node for better energy policies and practices.
Another possible outcome of this will be the emergence of Artificial Intelligence-run homes or AI Homes. These will be homes that run themselves based on the habits of the occupants. We already have the beginnings of these with daylight sensitive lighting systems but these will be more sophisticated intelligent systems that think like humans and make rational decisions as well.
Technology is advancing at a very fast rate and the quest for energy efficiency will increasingly be a technological problem rather than a human habit problem. Other great technological advances in the area of home energy management include universal kill switches (that turn off all appliances at once), smart renewable energy (such as solar panels that follow the sun), infrared thermal monitors (that can tell which building element is losing heat), among others. This makes the future of home energy management very bright because technology has a better chance of being consistent and methodic in achieving what we all want, energy efficiency.
Jennifer Taylor is a real-estate consultant who is passionate about the environment and about seeing homeowners lessen the carbon footprints of their homes through improved energy efficency and other green energy initiatives.