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Your home's energy bill is probably one of the most costly you get, and it's only going to get worse as energy prices continue to rise. Unless you take control and use your energy more intelligently.
In this article we're going to look at using home automation to monitor and control your home's energy use and see whether it can actually make a difference - helping you to save money.
There are two reasons why we as consumers want to save energy - the obvious one is to reduce our bills and the other is to help reduce greenhouse gasses and pollution. And if we're being totally honest, we won't spend money to make changes unless it's going to save us money at the same time.
By hoping for the best and leaving your house to look after itself will waste energy and is simply a waste of your money!
Here's a simple test. Walk around your home - how many little red lights you can count? Sure it's nice to have those devices waiting in standby for you to turn them On, but those devices are using a stack of electricity - up to 20% of what they would if they were on. And they're either fully On or in standby for 24-hours, 365 days a year!
Saving energy is quite straightforward and even simple changes can save you a lot of money.
Standby - Turn devices Off, don't leave them in standby - this can save around £76 off your annual bill.
Economy Tariffs - By setting your appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, etc.) to use economy or night-time electricity can save you 5% per appliance.
Lighting - Dimming lights when they're On will save you money. Dimming them by 50% can save you 10% (that's a bit extreme but you get the idea). More information is available in our Lighting Guide
Blinds - Closing blinds at sunset during the winter and sunrise during the summer can save up to 8% of the room's energy usage - great for conservatories.
Heating - This is an entire subject in its own right - take a look at our Heating Guide guides.
So saving energy is straightforward - but doing it is never that simple. We forget to do things, we leave things on standby and we carry on wasting money.
Home automation (by definition) can automate these things for you. It can monitor where and how you use energy, helping you identify how you can make savings. You then set the system to control these areas and leave it to run, it really does look after itself, things just happen - silently saving you money.
The two most common home automation technologies that are perfect for energy management are LightwaveRF and Z-Wave. Both offer affordable and easy to install systems to control your power use, they can even connect to the Internet to send you alerts or allow you remote access to the system.
Before we continue, it's worth taking a quick look at the main differences between LightwaveRF and Z-Wave.
The leading technology offering advanced capabilities that make it the most flexible solution for all home automation systems:
Take a look at the full Z-Wave Range.
Offers a reasonable performance for most home automation applications at a very low cost.
Take a look at the full LightwaveRF Range.
We've compiled a list of products that we feel represent good value for money and provide the features you need to start your home automation energy management system. You don’t need to buy the whole system at once, you can buy what you need and then expand it. We also have a very useful Getting Started guide.
Socket adapters plug into outlet sockets and enable the system to control appliances (On/Off) based on set times or by other network sensors such as motion detectors. For example a sensor can automatically switch a light On when you walk into a room and then turn it Off when there is no activity. Some sockets can also track energy consumption of the connected appliances.
These devices allow you to measure the power consumption of your entire home, giving you the information you need to spot issues and reduce your power usage.
The controller is the heart of your home automation system, allowing you to configure and control the whole network. By adding a Gateway Controller, you can also access the network from anywhere in the world using your Smartphone or PC. Choosing the right controller for your needs is a key factor so it's worth to do some research, so take a look at our detailed Controller Guide before committing.
With some careful thought and using the information provided by the home automation devices, you'll be able to measure your energy and make decisions that put you in control of how much (or how little) energy you use.
Using the components we've shown, you can create a system that immediately starts paying for itself by saving you money as well as giving you the convenience of home automation: