How to reduce energy consumption is a topic of intense debate. It’s also a topic of intense confusion. “I can reduce the amount of energy I consume at home by installing solar power.” I’ve heard people tell me they wanted to conserve energy by installing large banks of batteries.
Both of these are incorrect. By solely converting to solar, you are reducing your reliance on the fossil fuel-powered electrical grid, but you aren’t actually reducing the amount of energy you consume. Those batteries? They have to be charged somehow, most likely by plugging a charger into the grid. The end result is no reduction in consumption.
You Can Reduce Energy Consumption by Using Tech
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article describing a few tech items that can be used to reduce energy consumption. I’m going to build on that article here and give you some more ideas on how to go about reducing the amount of energy you use and lowering your energy bills at the same time. This isn’t going to be anything like converting to fluorescent bulbs or properly insulating your home. Although tried and true, those are old and boring ideas. We’re talking about using 21st century technology to get even better result.
Use Home Automation Features to Reduce Energy Consumption
We’ve done several articles here at Digital Landing on the idea of using home automation to decrease the amount of energy you use at home. Most of these articles deal with giving you fingertip control of electrical appliances, lighting, and your home’s heating and cooling system, even when you’re not at home. Yes, this is mostly new technology stuff, but it’s really only building on older technologies. I’m going to dig a little deeper.
Use Magnets to Reduce Refrigerator Energy Consumption
This one isn’t quite ready for primetime yet, but it looks like it’ll be ready for consumer use in a couple of years. GE, Oak Ridge Labs, and the Department of Energy have partnered to create a system wherein a refrigerator can cool items to up to 80 degrees cooler than ambient while significantly reducing the amount of energy consumed. This process uses magnets. According to GE, this process will make refrigerators at least 20 percent more efficient than they are today and it uses water, instead of potentially harmful refrigerants.
Use LED Lighting
LED’s themselves aren’t new technology, we’ve had them around for almost as long as I can remember (Trust me, a long time.). However, it’s only been the last few years that they’ve started to gain traction in the large scale lighting environment. Pop on over to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace hardware, or whatever your local hardware/home improvement store is, and check out their selection of LED lighting. LEDs use lower voltages (typically five volts DC) and much lower current (Typically milliamps) to deliver the same amount of light. In fact, LEDs consume less than half the amount of energy of a fluorescent bulb to provide the same amount of light. They also last longer. If you’re looking for something a little more specialized, my neighbors at ESTech can help.
Use a Smart Thermostat
Your thermostat is what controls your home heating and cooling system. Up until the last five years or so, they haven’t changed much over the years, except to go from analog indicators to digital indicators, but they still used bioelectric technology to determine when to turn on and off and they were completely standalone devices.
For example, Honeywell, one of the country’s foremost innovators in thermostat technology, has come out with the Lyric Thermostat (pictured above), a completely digital and connected thermostat. This little baby is small, at only three inches in diameter and one inch deep, but is packed with powerful features. If you look at it from more than a few feet away, it appears dead, but when you approach it, it comes to life using motion-sensing technology to save power. Since it’s a connected device, you can control it using a mobile device.
Reduce Energy Consumption by Upgrading to Smart Appliances
Everything is getting smarter it seems. Televisions that can surf the web, coffee makers that have your coffee ready when you wake up, thermostats that know when you’re home or away. These are all just a start. Now even our washing machines are getting smart. LG has introduced the Smart ThinQ Washer. It uses ColdWash technology, allowing it to clean even the dirtiest whites in cold water. It also knows when electrical demand on the grid is high and will delay the wash cycle to off-peak hours, reducing consumption and your bill.
Swap Out Power Adapters for Smart Ones
You have smart devices, so why not smart power adapters? Most power adapters, sometimes referred to as wall bricks, have no way of controlling the flow of power to your devices, so they often tend to surge and waste power when plugged in or powered up. Green Plug has fixed that with a power adapter that actually communicates with your devices and determines the exact amount of power they need. Energy consumption is reduced mostly through increased efficiency.
Energy Use Reduction through Monitoring
My mom once told me that a great way to reduce how much I spend is to monitor what I spend, write down how much I spend and what I spend it on. That premise also works to help you reduce energy consumption. For those of you just catching up to technology, Tendril Networks has the solution for you, Vision. Tendril’s Vision is a touchscreen device that lets you keep track of energy usage, and, it hopes, enable you to reduce that usage by as much as 20 percent.
Network Your Appliances
GE has another device that is ready now, called Nucleus that creates what they call a Home Energy Network. Nucleus itself is a ZigBee hub. This will connect to your Wi-Fi and allow you to access usage data online.