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Save energy with home automation

18 Aug 2014

smart home

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Electricity - we wouldn’t want to live without it, but those costs just keep climbing, and with fossil fuels running out and climate change looming, there’s more than one reason to cut back.

Lutron focuses on lighting, shading and temperature control, and is a popular option for residential and smaller commercial applications.

Reducing energy consumption by a meaningful amount, however, can be a little more complex than Eskom would have us believe – especially if you want to stay comfortable in your home, no matter the season.

One of the most effective energy management tools is an intelligently-designed home automation system. While home automation isn’t the only way to save energy in your home or office, it is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to minimise energy wastage without having to do a complete building redesign.

4ward-design explains how home automation can reduce your energy consumption without impacting on your lifestyle:

How does home automation save energy?

Normally, all of your building systems come with their own individual controls and software applications. Your air-conditioning, lighting, underfloor heating and shades, for example, would work completely independently from each other. While that might seem perfectly logical on the surface, it can introduce some dramatic inefficiencies to your overall energy consumption.

The Lutron is great as a stand-alone system, but can also be combined with a larger Crestron system if you’d like a little more functionality.

Take for instance, a hot summer’s day. The sun is beating down through your windows and your air-conditioning is working hard to keep your home cool. If your blinds were down, the interior wouldn’t be getting quite so hot, and your air-conditioning wouldn’t have to work so hard. But your A/C doesn’t know that it’s sunny outside, and even if it did, it couldn’t tell your blinds to close.

Now imagine a home that’s systems can all communicate with each other. When it’s sunny, your lighting system can ‘talk’ to your blinds to take advantage of the natural light, while your cooling system can make sure enough direct sunlight is blocked to reduce interior temperatures. When it’s cold, your underfloor heating won’t compete with your air-conditioning. Instead, the two systems will work in harmony to create the most comfortable interior climate, with maximum energy efficiency.

It’s all about the big picture

Saving energy effectively is all about seeing the big picture – knowing what every system in your home is doing at all times in order to optimise its functions for maximum energy efficiency.

Saving energy effectively is all about seeing the big picture – knowing what every system in your home is doing at all times in order to optimise its functions for maximum energy efficiency. You can do that yourself, if you have the time to run around measuring light levels and temperatures, and checking each and every system multiple times a day, or you could invest in a home automation system that does it all for you.

For instance, 4ward-design's preferred automation control systems are made by Crestron, Lutron and Control4 – all of which are well-suited to energy-saving applications.

Crestron control systems

Crestron is a powerful and highly scalable automation and energy management system that is suitable for both commercial and domestic use. It is capable of controlling HVAC, lighting, shades, AV, voice and data, security, room scheduling and more.

Lutron control systems

Lutron focuses on lighting, shading and temperature control, and is a popular option for residential and smaller commercial applications. It’s great as a stand-alone system, but can also be combined with a larger Crestron system if you’d like a little more functionality.

Control4 systems

Control4 offers the same powerful functionality as Crestron, but isn’t quite as scalable, and is less appropriate for large applications. It makes up for its lack of scalability by being a cost-effective option that still handles all the products and systems that you have and use every day. It is highly recommended for smaller domestic and commercial applications.
Getting the most from your home automation

There are two crucial things to remember in order to get the best results from your home automation system.

1. Make sure it’s designed and installed by a professional who understands your lifestyle as well as your energy saving requirements.

2. Maintain your system regularly. Simple things like dust on sensors or outdated software can reduce the efficiency of your system over time. Consider a Service Level Agreement with your installer so that you can relax knowing that your system will be taken care of by a professional, and run at its best.

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