Using technology to help you manage your home’s energy usage is easier than ever before. High tech solutions to green living are affordable and widely available, and any conscientious homeowner can lower their energy consumption, use clean and renewable sources of power and make the most out of existing materials to make a more efficient, Earth-friendly home. Some new green technologies are complex, prohibitively expensive or depend on factors that may be out of your control. For example, using geothermal heat as an alternative energy source is cost-effective over the long-term, but has a high initial cost and requires your home to be located over a geothermal hot spot. But, there are several options that can conserve resources as well as money, and best of all, they are available to everyone.
Here are five ways you can use technology to make your home more green:
1. Control the temperature even when you are not at home.
How much energy do you use to raise or lower the temperature inside your house while you are away? The power you consume and pay for to keep your heating and cooling system running when you are at work is literally dissipating into the air, leaving you with higher bills and no benefits to show for it. One easy solution to this dilemma is to install a remote-access energy management system. You can program your home’s temperature to maximize efficiency or make adjustments if your schedule changes and affects the time you spend at home. Some companies have energy management systems you can control from your smart phone, fully integrating two technologies into one very smart technology.
2. Use energy-saving appliances and fixtures.
When your large appliances consume less energy, your total use of resources lowers and your savings on yearly energy costs increases. Energy-efficient appliances conserve water as well as electricity. You can stretch the savings by upgrading your plumbing to more environmentally sound options. Installing low-flow faucets and toilets can cut your water usage as much as 60% when compared to standard fixtures. In addition to your annual savings, many government entities and local utility companies offer rebates or other incentives for installing energy conserving appliances.
When shopping for electrical appliances, compare the various Energy Star ratings. Keep in mind that many electronic devices will continue to use resources until they are completely turned off or unplugged. Televisions, console games and computers all consume electricity when paused or on standby, and even your cell phone chargers will sap energy from your outlet whether or not your phones are plugged in.
Turn off lights and devices when not in use, or install a smart home energy management system to help you control your energy usage.
3. Seal windows and doors to keep heat inside.
A home with quality seals around doors, windows and ducts will retain far more of its heat than a poorly sealed home. The most energy-efficient home heating equipment will still be costly and inefficient if the heat is allowed to dissipate freely through cracked, aged or thin sealings. If your windows are severely dated (i.e. single-pane glass in weather-beaten wooden frames), consider replacing them altogether with Low-E windows, which can be up to 500% more energy efficient.
4. Change your light bulbs.
Compact fluorescent lights put out the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs, but they use less than 25% of the electricity incandescents need. Changing just one bulb to CFL can measurably reduce your yearly energy costs and usage, saving you about $30 over the lifetime of the bulb. Change all of your lights and you will drastically reduce your energy consumption.
5. Use solar energy.
Technological advances have made solar power less expensive, making solar power a feasible option for residential use. Solar energy is renewable and freely available, but it is also weather-dependent. Rather than disconnecting yourself from the grid entirely, consider using solar energy for smaller purposes, such as powering your water heater. Using green technologies to make your home more efficient and reduce your environmental footprint has never been easier. Start with these simple, effective ideas for clean living and enjoy the positive impact of your conservation practices.
About the author: Jared Jaureguy is a freelance writer writer for Vivint.