Yes, CES has been over for almost a month, but for us product nerds the excitement is still in the air. If you were there, you saw that the smart home has officially grown from an awkward adolescent into a full-on adult. Everything was connected. From light switches, security systems, bathroom mirrors, mattress pads, pet food bowls, toothbrushes—you name it, it had a wireless connection. The conventional wisdom is this is how we’ll interact with our home and the products in our home in the near future and beyond. But if this is true — and all signs point to yes — there’s something missing. Most of these products focused on either security, lighting or convenience. Lost in the mix was optimizing resources used in a home, specifically: energy. At a show that’s a preview of the world to come, it’s clear that there’s a gap in smart devices and energy management that needs to be filled.
Just think of all the places at home that are ripe for energy savings through automation. That light doesn’t really need to be on—you’ve been out of the kitchen for more than an hour. It’s 75 degrees outside; the thermostat probably doesn’t need to be set to 75 degrees too. It’s little savings like these that tend to add up to make a much bigger impact. The exciting thing about smart home technology is that it will shift what is a manual and clunky coordination process to a smooth, autonomous, and personalized experience that doesn’t impact our daily lives.
What does this look like?
Imagine you’ve been at work all day, and it’s a cold winter day. Instead of leaving your heat on, your home uses less while you’re gone. As you drive home from work, your house knows you’re close by, and warms your living room to a comfortable temperature. Or the flipside, it’s summertime and your house is automatically cooled according to the temperature of the day, based on weather patterns and reports. When you’re home throughout the day, your lights are turned down in a way that’s unnoticeable to the human eye—but visible in the form of energy savings on your bill.
This type of control over your home’s total energy consumption means more data and smarter energy insights. And these insights mean learning and discovering more about our own in-home patterns that translate to an increased level of energy efficiency. It’s a virtuous cycle where smart devices learn and anticipate your preferences and habits in order to make more informed recommendations—responding in real-time to your needs. The benefits of this stretch far outside the home, too.
Think of these devices as a bridge from the home to the grid, where real-time energy usage, time of use costs and user-provided goals, can give energy companies all the information they need to deploy grid services and save you money. One example is utilizing demand response. Basically, an energy company that services tens of thousands of homes, can quietly work in the background and coordinate these homes through their devices to use less energy when it’s at its dirtiest and most expensive.
This naturally supports an important aspect of smart devices—cutting carbon emissions. Energy efficiency means doing more with less. Using less energy inherently cuts our carbon footprint, which is the number one contributor to climate change. On average, homes that install smart devices are projected to cut their carbon footprints by as much as 10 percent. Outside of moving to the woods, living off the land and going carbon neutral, it’s probably one of the most tangible decisions someone could make in the fight against climate change. It brings the fight from the sky to our living room.
This is the fundamental promise of technology—to change the way we do things and add value in a way that makes a product (or the world) better than before. Smart home products are happening. Energy is a current that literally runs through everything that we do. The promise of combining the two is a story of how the world is changed—it’s sure to be an exciting ride.
Interested in learning more about smart energy, and the work we’re doing to bridge the gap? Check us out.