by: Lucian Anghel, Founder and CEO, EnergyPal-TimePal Romania and FMS
Smart building and their automation have become increasingly heard in the field of construction. The world is looking for the latest cool gadgets to “smartly activate” their homes. Home builders and real estate developers are beginning to seriously consider adding smart home and building functions to their new residential and commercial developments. The giants Amazon, Google and even Apple are investing in this multi-billion dollar industry to make our homes smart. In addition to the WOW factor, what are the benefits and practical applications of technologies for smart homes.
The Internet of Things (IoT) brought to the level of households must be economically viable. This means that this expense must contribute to the overall economy of the household. In other words, IoT technology must become a profit center and not a cost center for our budget. For example, when the fluorescent light bulb was first introduced to the market, many people were shocked by its cost. Only when the new fluorescent bulbs have consumed only part of the energy of conventional incandescent bulbs, but it lasts several times longer, has the economy of this new technology made economic sense. This new technology has contributed to the “profit center” of the household budget, allowing us to save more.
In the IoT market of smart homes and consumers (CIoT), there are many connected devices that contribute to the end-user profit center. While each element itself functions as designed and contributes, the true value of the Internet of Things will be attained as technology matures and devices are integrated between them and driven by a “brain with artificial intelligence”.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology will become the ultimate engine of energy efficiency and sustainability in the coming years. Here are some household appliances that will make a big difference in energy efficiency:
- Smart thermostats
- Water heaters / boilers
- Lighting system
- Window blinds
Smart thermostats allow remote monitoring and control of the temperature of heating and cooling systems. The advantage of using a smart thermostat, as opposited to an old-fashioned “dumb” thermostat, is that we can program how we want to raise or lower the temperature from a distance. These thermostats will automatically provide energy consumption analysis and a report to show you how much money we have saved each month.
Smart water heaters allow us to raise and lower the water temperature in our home boiler wherever we have an internet connection. For example, suppose we take a shower every evening at 9pm. We can set the boiler to start water heating at 20:00. so when you get home the water is already hot. The rest of the day the hot water heater is off! Thus, energy costs decrease significantly. Suppose, at mid-day, while you are away from home, the program suddenly changes and we leave the city for three days. With the click of a button, we remotely change the programming of the boiler and it will be stopped until we get home.
The intelligent lighting system has sensors that allow the light to be turned on or off depending on the presence of people in the room. The lighting systems of this allow us to override the sensor programming, for example, to light the lights for security purposes. An intelligent lighting system will notify us by text message if a light has been left on. The energy savings brought by a smart lighting system can be very large.
Modern window blinds are not only used for protection or decorative purposes but they contribute to energy savings. For example, the light sensors on the outside of the blinds will automatically open in the morning, to give us natural sunlight, so that we do not need to turn on the lights when we wake up. We can also use thermal blinds that insulate windows in both hot and cold weather, allowing us to have a much more efficient air conditioning system. The blinds can be equipped with outdoor solar panels, so we don’t even have to pay for the energy needed to open and close them. Of course, such blinds allow us to open or close them remotely. For example, suppose we left town for a week and left the blinds closed to keep the house cool and save energy. After about a day we realize that the plants in the house will die if they do not receive sunlight for a week! With the mobile phone we send a simple text message to the blinds: “Open blinds for the living room” and the problem is solved.
The latest advances in technology have immense potential that people can benefit from by increasing the energy efficiency of their households. Using the latest IoT technologies for the smart building, not only do we save money, but we also contribute to reducing pollution, which is good for people, the environment and the planet.