Why Smart Homes Are Not Guaranteed to Be More Efficient
Smart home proponents rightfully point out that certain smart gadgets can make a home more efficient. And by that, we mean energy efficient. Devices like smart thermostats and lights can ultimately mean using less energy by more tightly controlling use. But installing such devices in no way guarantees greater efficiency though.
There are never any iron clad guarantees for the simple fact that every home is subject to its own unique circumstances. Homeowners are unique as well. The devices they choose and how they decide to deploy them play a huge role in determining ultimate efficiency. So while the chances are fairly high that a smart home is a more efficient home, there are exceptions to the rule.
Smart Heating and Cooling
Installing a smart thermostat ostensibly creates an environment of smart heating and cooling. How smart things get depends on a lot of variables. Let us start with the thermostat itself. If the only thing that makes it smart is the ability to access it remotely, it doesn’t do a whole lot to make you a more efficient user of your HVAC system.
You still need to program the thermostat to take advantage of your daily routine. But what if, like your parents and grandparents with their programmable thermostats, you cannot figure out the programming for yourself? Will you abandon all hope and just set the temperature manually? People do it. If you are one of them, you’re not actually gaining any efficiency.
On the other hand, mastering programming should make your home more energy efficient. And if your thermostat has the ability to learn and self-adjust, it’s reasonable to expect even greater efficiency.
Installing smart lighting makes a home more energy efficient by decreasing the chances that lights are left on unnecessarily. There are numerous ways to achieve this. First is to install motion-sensitive lighting. It automatically turns itself on when motion is detected. Lights automatically turn off when there is no motion. In theory, this means lights are not left on when no one is in a room.
Another way to achieve greater efficiency is to program smart lights the same way you would a thermostat. Lights are programmed to go on and off at certain times, virtually guaranteeing that light energy isn’t being wasted. In theory, this makes your home more energy efficient.
But what if you are already extremely diligent about turning lights on and off manually? What if you insist on using only LED light bulbs? Installing smart lights might make your life easier, but you may not notice any measurable increase in efficiency over what you are already doing.
A Case-by-Case Thing
Vivint Smart Home, a nationwide leader in home automation, says it all boils down to how devices are used. The level of efficiency that homeowners realize by converting to the smart home model isn’t black-and-white. It is not static. It needs to be measured case-by-case.
How devices are used makes a difference. So does a homeowner’s commitment to setting up and maintaining smart devices. And then there are external factors, like climate for instance. To assume that every home is made more efficient by smart devices is to assume that all houses are the same. We know that this is not the case.
The chances are that converting your home into a smart home will make it more efficient. But there are no guarantees. The only way to know is to actually install and start using the devices. If you are successful, good for you. If not, at least you have some cool gadgets to play with. That’s not so bad.