Is working from home costing money? I know bypassing the commute is worthy, but unless you invest in energy saving equipment to meet home office and entertainment needs, the tradeoff is an increase in your home energy bills. Homeowners are now factoring energy efficiency into purchase decisions of consumer electronics in an effort to reduce home energy costs, according to a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) (5/8/09). The study finds homeowners using electronics to reduce home energy costs, including do-it-yourself solutions and professionally installed home technologies.
Consumers are turning to “smart energy meters” home energy audits to reduce energy consumption. In the past two years, about one in 10 households conducted a home energy audit and as a result 61 percent replaced appliances or CE devices with more energy efficient models. Fifty-six percent of consumers show interest in "smart energy meters" that provide information on optimum times to run appliances for utility bill savings.
Home energy management will increase significantly over the next four years, and the number of U.S. households with a smart meter will grow to over six million by 2012 according to research studies with over one million smart meters deployed in the US. And, utilities see the benefit of upgrading the grid as consumers are growing more conscious of their energy consumption. The growth of the home automation market for systems that cost under $50,000 is growing and expected that number of home automation systems installed in 2013 will be more than 50 times the number currently installed today.
According to the CEA study, consumers are aware of the ENERGY STAR designation but only 50 percent are aware of the term “smart Home” and 38 percent aware of ‘home automation” as many of these companies are relatively unknown. ENERGY STAR labeled office equipment is widely available and provides users with dramatic savings, as much as 90% savings for some products. Overall, ENERGY STAR labeled office products use about half the electricity of standard equipment. Along with saving energy directly, this equipment can reduce air-conditioning loads, noise from fans and transformers, and electromagnetic field emissions from monitors.
Beside smart meters, some smart home infrastructure and controls investigated include: Home Automation Inc (HAI) a company that in 2009 won Five Mark of Excellence award at the CEA show for home automation of audio systems, video surveillance, access control products with touch screen interfaces with software that allows access and control over the Internet. Home control company Crestron has added intelligent occupancy sensors, with a 450-2500 sq. ft. range, that have built-in microprocessors and photocells to shut off lights automatically to cut energy usage with integrated climate and device controls. According to Crestron, the sensors continually analyze and adjust to changing conditions. Upon activation, each sensor initiates in “walk-through” mode for a two and a half minutes, during which lights turn off promptly. Cable and power product manufacturer Monster has introduced two lines of GreenPower products for home entertainment and PC users. Monster says the products will help eliminate energy wasted while electronics idle in standby mode, which still uses electricity even when they are turned “off.” The smart surge suppressors cut off all power to peripheral devices when a master unit, like a computer or audio/video receiver turns off or goes into sleep mode to consume energy when not used and powers up when the device is turned back on.