Energy Efficient Residential Technologies—More than just Equipment

February 21, 2016

When you think about energy efficiency, what usually comes to mind?  Utility bills, carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions?  How about the Energy Star program? Energy Star became a prominent name back in 1992 when it was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The purpose of the program was to establish a set of standards for energy efficiency appliances, heating and cooling systems, as well as other energy-consuming products like lighting, electronics and office equipment.   Fast forward to today and now entire homes are labeled with the Energy Star logo.

When homeowners find themselves needing to replace existing HVAC units or buy new equipment, it’s only natural to pay the most attention to system performance, efficiency ratings, and of course, look for that Energy Star label.  It makes perfect sense to associate the need to increase efficiency and decrease consumption with equipment specs and SEER ratings.  However, when it comes to new energy efficient technologies for homeowners, there is so much more to the story than the highest efficiency rating or the Energy Star logo.

Let us explain…

We aren’t saying that equipment type and rating mean nothing to energy efficiency for residential HVAC.  It plays a role, but the market for new technologies has broadened and developed so drastically in the past two decades, that the quest for highly efficient residential systems goes much further than equipment.  There is a whole other market of smart residential technology that doesn’t require you to install a hybrid system or geothermal unit.

Related: Trends in Energy Efficient Equipment

Perhaps the greatest benefit of these smart technologies is that they are relatively affordable (in comparison to an investment in new equipment) and put users in control of their home’s comfort and efficiency level.  There is something for every homeowner—whether you want to sync your home’s HVAC, security and lighting systems to a central WiFi device, or simply update your thermostat or a few air registers.

Here are some of the most popular innovations in home efficiency…

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats can identify homeowners’ habits and the characteristics of their house in as little as one week.  Then it programs these preferences based on your schedule and needs.  Some systems have the ability to sense when you’ve left your home so it can adjust heating and cooling accordingly.  Many smart thermostats can save you up to 20% of heating and cooling costs. (source)

Products to consider:  Nest, Aprilaire, ecobee

Related:  More on smart thermostats and other home automation tools

Smart Vents

These technologies wisely open and close air vents to reduce hot or cold spots in certain rooms of your home.  You can also set up zones to control the direction of airflow to specified areas.  Smart vents work by monitoring the climate of each room and sending that information to a central hub which programs the system accordingly.  Connected through a smartphone app, the user can remotely control temperature in any room to exact specifications. It is recommended to replace only 1/3 of the vents in your home with smart vents.

Products to consider: Keen, Ecovent

LED Light Bulbs

Lighting accounts for around 25% of a home’s electricity use. (source)  Ever think a simple switch in light bulbs could reduce energy consumption?  LED light bulbs are designed to last up to 25x longer and use 85% less energy than standard 60w incandescent light bulbs. (source) Most of the smart light bulbs on the market are available with starter kits to help you connect through an app on your smartphone.  This enables you control over your home’s lighting from anywhere.   

Products to consider:  Cree, Osram, Philips

Automate your home, simplify your life

Small, gradual changes go a long way in making a significant impact on your home’s energy consumption.  There are countless smart technologies on the market to reduce energy use, save money and give you full control of your home’s systems—whether you’re right inside or out of town.  Dominion Service Company is happy to share information with you on the best smart home automation technologies.  Contact us today at 800-832-0758 or ask your technician at your next maintenance appointment.  

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