Smart green building devices that promote energy efficiency

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ December 22, 2011

Have you heard about smart meters? A smart meter connects homes with the electric grid. It's a two-way communicator that helps homeowners truly examine their energy use and make decisions about how to operate their appliances, HVAC systems, and lighting.

Depending on your utility provider, your smart meter can help you determine the best hours (known as time-of-use pricing) for using energy in the home. Manufacturers are already creating home controllers that use data from smart meters to operate your residential energy systems.

General Electric, for example, is selling a Nucleus system that employs an energy manager the plugs right into a wall socket. The system connects wirelessly to smart meter devices and appliances. You can transmit your Nucleus data to a home PC, laptop or iPhone to tweak your settings remotely and fine tune your home for green consumption.

Every 15 seconds, the app updates your computer or phone with information on how much energy you're using and which appliances or draws are using it. You can track consumption over time as well as receive alerts when energy rates drop. Depending on your appliances and home energy system, you can use your PC or phone to turn stuff on or off-including your thermostat.

Automate your green building with a touch

Control 4 produces a system that they say can be implemented in new and old homes without requiring any reconstruction. Old House Web has already cited the benefits of home controllers in its Green Guide.

The Control 4 systems can be operated from Android apps, smart phones, iPads and PCs. They can manage appliances in a single room or wirelessly to a full-sized mansion. According to Control 4, the system installed in a typical 3 bedroom home can reduce your CO2 emissions by 850 pounds a year. That's the green equivalent of taking a car off the road for an entire month.

You can adjust HVAC and lighting settings, tailoring them for each room in your home. Your window shades or blinds roll up or down without a thought on your part. Dimmers lower your lighting in one room, turning up the lights in your kitchen at the time you plan to get home. The system controls your entertainment center as well, coordinating music, audio, video and it governs operations of your doors and windows, security system, and garage.

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