Smart home enthusiasts are motivated to do what they do by a variety of things. One is a desire to make the home more environmentally friendly. As the thinking goes, smart homes are better for the environment because they use less energy. What do you think? Is a smart home an environmentally friendly home?
So much of what we talk about in terms of preserving the environment is related to energy. There is a good reason for that. Energy fuels nearly every aspect of life.
Long before there were fossil fuels or electricity, people still relied on the sun’s energy to grow food. They used the energy of moving water to operate mills. Energy from the fire was harnessed for blacksmithing. The reality of life is that energy, and its consumption, are an integral part of sustaining humanity. The only thing that has changed since the dawn of time is how we harness and utilize energy.
No Fossil Fuels or Nuclear
In the 21st century, we are content to assume there is both good and bad power. Good power comes from the sun, wind, and water. Bad power comes from fossil fuels and nuclear reactions. In addition, anything relating to bad power is bad for the environment.
Fossil fuels are bad because they produce greenhouse gases. Those gases, despite being abundant in nature, are deemed bad for the planet. Nuclear power is bad because of its potential to do harm when accidents occur. Regardless of how any one of us feels about the politics of the environmental movement, there is no denying that the arguments for and against certain forms of power have been well thought out.
All of this leads us back to smart homes and environmental friendliness. If fossil fuels are bad, anything we can do to reduce our consumption of them would be good, right? Making a home more energy efficient by making it smarter qualifies as good for the simple fact that greater efficiency equates to less fossil fuel consumption to heat and cool, cook, do the laundry, and generate hot water.
Increase Efficiency with a Smart Thermostat
For the remainder of this post, it will be assumed that there is an optimum level of energy efficiency that makes a home environmentally friendly without making it unrealistic to build, own, or maintain. We achieve that optimum efficiency through smart technology.
What devices could we rely on? A good starting point would be the smart thermostat. Vivint.com believes so much in the potential of the smart thermostat that they recommended it in an April 2021 post explaining how consumers could celebrate Earth Day by making a few life changes.
If you are unaware, a smart thermostat in 2021 is far more advanced than the first-generation programmable thermostats of the 80s and 90s. A smart thermostat isn’t just programmable; it can be operated remotely. It can also be tied to other smart components in order to make automatic adjustments. The best of the best can even ‘learn’ your daily routine in order to self-adjust.
More Efficient Heating and Cooling
The goal of the smart thermostat is to facilitate more efficient heating and cooling by dispensing with manual temperature regulation. Unlike a manually operated thermostat, a smart thermostat takes care of itself. You program it once and then forget about it. If you do need to temporarily override the programming, it is easy enough to do with a mobile app.
In theory, a smart thermostat cuts down on unnecessary heating and cooling. You reduce energy consumption by not heating or cooling when you’re not home. The same goes for when you are sleeping. Considering that a typical home’s greatest source of energy consumption is heating and cooling, a smart thermostat that delivers as promised should significantly cut down on energy consumption.
Other Smart Home Devices
It is fairly easy to make the case that a smart thermostat makes a home more efficient. So as far as heating and cooling are concerned, a home equipped with a properly functioning smart thermostat would be a more environmentally friendly home. But is that all there is? Are there any more devices homeowners could install?
There are. Here are a few examples:
Homeowners can install automated lighting in a number of different forms. One option is the smart light bulb with automation circuitry built in. Another is a smart socket that fits between a light bulb and a traditional socket. A smart socket essentially acts as an on/off switch.
Automated lighting works similar to smart thermostats in terms of energy control. You can combine programming with motion sensors to ensure that lights are not burning when they don’t have to. When you leave a room, the lights shut off. If any lights are left on when you go to bed, they automatically shut off as well.
Smart Window Blinds
Getting back to heating and cooling for just a minute, smart window blinds can reduce the load on your furnace and air conditioner. In the summer, you spend less energy cooling your home by keeping your blinds closed during the daylight hours. In the winter, you want sunlight streaming into the house because it warms things up.
With smart window blinds installed, you don’t have to run around the house opening and closing the blinds to accommodate for season and time of day. You simply program them and let the blinds to the rest. They automatically open and close at the most appropriate times.
All the while, your HVAC unit doesn’t have to work as hard because you are using your blinds to help manage the temperature inside your home. It is brilliant in its simplicity.
Based on what this post has discussed, one can make a compelling case that a smart home is an environmentally friendly one. Now we just need hard data to back it up. In the meantime, smart home companies will keep coming up with new devices that make living even more efficient and comfortable.