Thursday, June 22, 2017
Today's 'Smarter' Home
When smart home technology was introduced a couple of decades ago, it was focused primarily on convenience. While the ability to control lighting ambience throughout a home from a single location, or to pre-program and adjust heating and cooling based on room function and time of day were impressive at the time, that reality was expensive and required not only a real desire and commitment by the homeowner, but also installation expertise and specialized wiring. As with early security systems, the home energy technology of the time was designed primarily for new construction, seldom available on any scale the retrofit of an an existing house.
Not so today.
Modern technologies are multi-faceted, wireless and comprehensive, sometimes tied to a single touch screen, but just as often accessible from a variety of onsite and remote devices. While it was once the domain of science fiction, today's technology is within reach of most homeowners, and the future is yet to be imagined.
Sustainable and User Friendly
The impressive part of home technology is that it allows the modern house to become a model of energy efficiency, with controls that assure systems operate at peak efficiency to lower bills, monitor consumption, troubleshoot problems and alert owners when necessary.
Sustainability for the long term requires feedback about automatic operation as well as conscious choices. Advanced power management technology allows some, if not all, home systems to be turned completely off at times, eliminating the need for "standby power," which is said to eat up about five percent of the energy consumption nationwide. Homeowners can view, in real time, the effect of daily habits on home energy use. An innovative SoundVision system operates an entire household with a 12-kilowatt photovoltaic system that also has the ability to feed power back to the energy grid when not needed.
Thermostats, Lighting, Water Use and Air Quality
From setback thermostats that allow automatic heat and air conditioning adjustments throughout the day, to integrated lighting design that takes into account the passage of the sun and heat and light gain through exterior windows, new technology has simplified not only the design process but the actual operation of a home's integrated systems. They can now be controlled remotely from a personal device or a smart phone, and everything from entertainment to security to irrigation systems and toxic substances can be monitored in real time. Alerts are sent to authorities or to specified responders in case of a water or gas leak or another type of emergency.
The kitchen is a primary area for tech-savvy modern homes, not just in terms of convenience, but also with automated systems that allow programmable operation, appliances that are able to "communicate" with each other, allow owner to view refrigerator contents from afar, and even send shopping lists directly to supermarkets.
The savings accrue not just to resource, power and water consumption, but also to human energy. There is no doubt that quality of life has seen dramatic improvements, and there is every reason to believe that technology will be the leader in home convenience and enjoyment for the future.