Smart homes are becoming increasingly popular because they can help make our lives easier. From entry level smart applications to fully optimised solutions for your entire home, we can now control our gadgets and appliances remotely from our smartphones. Not only is it more convenient, but it’s also better for the environment and your wallet.
How are Smart Homes Better for the Environment?
In theory, the simplest way to save energy is to use less but in practical terms, this isn’t so straightforward. There are some appliances that absolutely need to be used, so it can be difficult to cut back on their usage. We feel this conflict too so we’ve put together this post to discuss how smart homes of the future can help you protect the environment and your budget.
Smart homes can help because you can monitor and control your gadgets and appliances. Some systems even allow you to monitor how much energy you use so you know exactly which appliances to use less of and when.
And How Can This Help You Save Money?
When it comes to saving money on energy bills, we all know that it’s better to turn appliances off completely rather than leaving them on standby. But smart homes can help you see precisely which appliances are using the most energy and thus, are racking up your energy bills the most. You can then use this information to turn off or use less of these particular appliances and save money in the long run.
There are certain smart devices that can help you get the most out of your smart home benefits. These include:
Heating typically makes up a huge chunk of the monthly utility bills and prices are continuing to rise. It’s estimated that in 2017, it cost nearly £800 to heat an average three-bedroom house. Smart thermostats can help to reduce this cost by connecting your heating system to the internet and allowing you to control it, such as adjusting the temperature or turning it on or off, via your smartphone or computer.
This is helpful because it means you can control your central heating system remotely. You can adjust the heating in response to whether there are people in your house or not. For example, if you know you’ll be late home from work, you can change the time it comes on to a later one or turn the heating to a lower level so you can avoid wasting heat.
There may be some months when you spend hardly anything on utility bills. And then there may be those when your bills rocket up and you have no idea why. A smart meter gives you more accurate readings so you have a better understanding of your usage. You’re no longer provided with estimates - you can see precisely how much you’ve spent and where.
Smart meters also come with an “in-home display” so you can track energy usage in real-time. You can see where you’re using the most energy. So, if you’re looking to reduce what usage and save on bills, this can come in handy to figure out when and where to cut back.
Lighting, alongside heating, makes up another huge chunk of the monthly bill. LED light bulbs can help you save money but it’s too easy to forget to turn the lights off or use them when we don’t need to.
A smart lighting system can take you further by turning off your lights or dimming them according to the activity you might be doing. For example, you could have one level of brightness for reading and another for working at home. Not only does this make your house seem more futuristic, but it helps you maximise your energy savings.
QUICK TIP: LED light bulbs cost a little more than filament options, but last longer and cost a tiny fraction to power, therefore achieving a saving in the long-run.
Smart Power Outlets
When you turn your TV off, that’s it, right? It’s off so it’s not contributing to your electricity bills anymore. Unfortunately, that’s not the case because unless you’ve actually turned it off at the socket, it’ll be in standby which will be adding to your bills. In 2016, it was estimated that leaving the average 32-inch TV on standby costed £1.91 a year. While that’s not a huge figure, just think: you’re paying to not watch your TV. And the cost certainly adds up over time when you think of all the devices on standby in your home: TVs, computer, mobile phone chargers, router, washing machine, dishwasher, microwave...
You can just go about your house and turn off your appliances one by one, or you can use smart power outlets. These intuitive outlets allow you to turn on and off any appliance that you have plugged in, straight from your smartphone or other device. You can set up an automated system so it reacts to schedules and triggers. This is hugely convenient and allows you to save even more energy in the long run.
Smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo, can connect to your other smart home gadgets - such as power outlets, lighting and thermostat. This turns your speaker into the central hub for all things smart in your home which means you no longer need to search through your smartphone apps or go to the gadget to adjust something. You only need to speak to the speaker.
For example, saying, “Alexa, turn off my heating at 11pm” will command your speaker to turn your heating off at that time. You can then proceed to set up a schedule. This is all without needing your smartphone. Just set up your speaker, connect up your gadgets and verbally command away.
Going Smart can Transform Your Home But You Need Better Broadband for the Best Results
Smart homes are an extremely beneficial technology, helping us save time, money and live in a way that’s kinder to the environment. But they do require an internet connection so you’ll need good broadband if you’re going to monitor your energy usage in real-time, be kept reliably up-to-date and adjust your appliances via the apps or commanding your Alexa and have the speaker and your house respond instantly.
Rural communities often suffer from patchy connections which can affect the efficiency of your smart home system, as well as your other usual internet activities such as online shopping, gaming and streaming. Gigaclear specialise in providing ultrafast full fibre broadband to rural communities so you can be sure you’ve got access to speedy, reliable internet.
Read More on How to Get the Most Out of Your Smart Home
So, Amazon Echo can keep your smart home gadgets grounded and connected to one central hub. But adjusting your heating or turning your outlets on and off aren’t the only things it can do.
It can also play music, make and receive calls, set alarms, check your schedules and more. Download our guide to getting the most out of your Alexa and learn how it can improve your smart home setup.