Julien Syx works in the I.T. industry and began to add some automation to his house at the beginning of 2013. Like most of us, he was suffering from ever increasing energy costs and after a particularly harsh winter and nasty heating bill he decided that something needed to be done to bring his usage down to a lower level.
"I had some problems with my heating system and when I received the bill I cried!"
By creating a Home Automation system with Z-Wave technology at it's core, Julien is able to control his heating system with maximum flexibility, for example he can adjust temperatures individually in each room and even turn the heating off entirely when nobody is at home. He can also expand the system using a modular approach to allow him to not only spread the cost of the equipment but also to target areas that will bring him the greatest savings first.
What was the attraction of Z-Wave?
After many hours spent researching, Julien decided that a good way to reduce his energy costs would be to add some intelligence to the house in order to know when and where to heat. He chose Z-Wave in order to have status reporting and a mesh network without needing to lay new cables or carry out expensive re-modelling to his home. Having just paid a large bill, Julien also wanted the cheapest system available but needed to make sure that it was possible for it to evolve over a period of time. Overall Z-Wave offered a great feature set, the widest range of devices and the best value for money.
"My choice was to go with Z-Wave to have a reporting status and a mesh network in my house without having to make holes everywhere."
Julien chose Vesternet as his supplier due to the wealth of information on our web site, great prices and readily available technical support. He has solved his heating problems and reduced his energy consumption saving him money in the long run. Having a background in software development has driven Julien to go beyond the out of the box capabilities that Z-Wave gave him and he has given life to his house!
Of all the Z-Wave controllers on the market, Julien chose the Vera Lite as it is great value for money, has the widest range of supported devices and is actively developed by MiCasaVerde. It also has a huge community following with many additional applications available that expand on the built in features. Julien knew that the Vera is simple to use for beginners and can also be used in more complicated systems where do-it-yourself enthusiasts can tinker to their heart's content!
Julien is building his own "JARVIS" (Iron Man's virtual assistant) type system incorporating his Z-Wave equipment via the integration abilities of his Vera. L.I.S.A. is his AI (Artificial Intelligence) software and can listen to triggers from his Vera executing additional functions such as reading his email or shopping list. L.I.S.A. also supports voice commands allowing Julien to practise his Tony Stark impression and run Scenes in the Vera by using natural language speech.
The Vera knows where Julien is in his house by taking inputs from the four-in-one Aeon Labs Multisensors and controls the heating according to which rooms are currently occupied. By using the Secure Wall Thermostat & Receiver, Julien's wife is able to adjust the temperatures in each room to suit personal comfort levels and the Danfoss Living Connect Radiator Thermostat on each radiator controls the amount of hot water flowing, saving energy and reducing wear on the boiler.
The remote access available on his Vera lets Julien and his wife power on the heating when leaving work so that the house is at a comfortable temperature when they return home. Overall, Julien has reduced his bill by around 10 – 15% and will be making further savings by creating intelligent schedules based on the accurate sensor data his Vera is now collecting for him.
There's something for the Kids too!
A great Home Automation system should offer something for everybody and Julien has made good use of the Fibaro Universal Dimmers to control some LED lighting strips installed in the stairway. These provide convenience lighting for when his 3 year old goes wandering during the night - Vera runs a scene to turn on the LED lighting strips when movement is detected in the upstairs hall, giving Julien and his wife peace of mind that his child won't fall down the stairs in the dark.
The Vera gives Julien a wealth of information about his devices in real time but he decided that he'd like some finer detail and some greater control over the historical data. It's flexibility allows him to poll the appropriate API (Application Programming Interface) for sensor data and log it externally for graphing purposes. He has written an article on his personal blog detailing how he has used the monitoring software "Numeter" to achieve this.
Julien also felt that while the Vera UI is functional and easy to use, a simpler application would appeal to other family members and guests. He has therefore installed an Android based tablet on the wall that runs the "MyVera" app (available from the Google Play store) for a more user friendly interface. This is working really well and allows Julien's wife to operate the system with ease when he is not at home!
Julien has big plans for his system and wants to automate his lighting next, giving him the ability to control light levels based on ambient conditions and room occupancy. He will also be looking at the various options available for monitoring electricity and gas usage in real time and is interested in the Aeon Labs Clamp Power Meter and the NorthQ Data Logger Set for E-Meters. Installing either of these will give Julien even more data to analyse, allowing him to fine tune his Home Automation to suit his family's needs as well as his pocket! And by signing up to our newsletter Julien is able to keep up to date with new products and special offers that will ease the initial outlay as he continues to expand his set-up!
If you have a home automation system that you think would be a good case study to show others what's possible, we'd love to hear from you - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org