Everyone has a responsibility to act more sustainably and limit the potential for irreversible damage to our planet. One of the most accessible ways to achieve this is to adopt energy-efficient measures in the home.
The less energy is wasted, the less pressure there is on finite fuel resources. This also means power plants could generate lower levels of harmful emissions.
The good news is that there are various effective and accessible tools homeowners can use to reduce excessive energy consumption. Some of these are simple measures, such as sealants for doors and windows to reduce energy leaks. But it is the technological solutions, like energy-efficient lighting systems and environmentally sustainable appliances that tend to make a significant impact.
It’s worth taking a moment to examine this issue a little closer. Let’s look at the tech behind energy efficiency in modern homes.
Smart control systems are among the most accessible energy efficiency tools available today. One of the common misconceptions about smart homes is people need to be tech-savvy to use these devices. This isn’t the case.
Developers have worked to ensure smart control systems utilize interfaces many people are already familiar with through their smartphones or computers. It’s also worth noting the growth of the market continues to make these items more affordable. But what tech behind these systems impacts sustainability?
Let’s start with smart lighting systems. There are multiple components that contribute to energy efficiency.
Firstly, the bulbs used are not just connected to the control system, they also tend to be more sustainable light-emitting diode (LED) versions. In addition, the control hub is operated by an application.
This allows you as the homeowner to set appropriate parameters for automation. This can mean the system turns off any lights when sensors indicate there is no movement in the room. You can also arrange to dim the lighting levels at certain times of the night.
Smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems work on a similar principle. In this instance, sensors in the IoT are placed throughout your home, providing a connected application with data on humidity, temperature, and air pressure levels in each room.
The AI software then analyzes this data and either automatically adjusts the HVAC system or makes recommendations to you via the application. In either case, it empowers you to create usage plans more appropriate to your home’s climate needs while minimizing any unnecessary energy consumption.
Another way to be energy efficient in the home is to adopt alternative power solutions. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to rely entirely on renewable energy. There are some areas in which this either isn’t practical or local government legislation prevents this. However, even gaining some of your electricity needs from alternative sources can make for more efficient use of nonrenewable sources.
Solar power is perhaps the most effective consideration here. This involves using panels to harness the energy from the sun and generate electricity. On its own, this isn’t usable in your home.
Part of the solar system includes a solar inverter to convert this direct current (DC) energy into alternate current (AC) energy that can then be directed toward your electricity breaker box and circulated around your home.
There have been significant advances in solar power technology in recent years, including better production methods that make solar panels less expensive and the batteries capable of storing more energy. If you live in a hot and sunny location, you’ll usually find this results in greater energy efficiency as your panels will have direct access to the solar energy they need.
However, recent improvements in panel design still tend to mean even homes in cloudy areas can expect efficient generation.
Another positive to this tech is that any excess energy you generate can be directed to the local electricity grid. This not only minimizes local reliance on fossil fuels, but you can also see a cash payment in return from utility providers.
Heating and cooling systems are among the most energy-intensive aspects of homes. Even when you’re utilizing one of the aforementioned smart HVAC systems, you may not be utilizing the most energy-efficient or sustainable approach.
This is because the operation of HVAC systems is usually dependent upon gas, liquid refrigerant chemicals, or nonrenewable electricity sources. As such, there is a rising trend to adopt a more natural approach with geothermal heating and cooling systems.
The technology behind this more energy-efficient approach is geared toward harnessing and circulating the warmth underneath the earth’s surface. In essence, the temperature of underground soil and rocks can be warmer than the above-ground ambient temperature. This means a heat pump can be installed to circulate fluid through underground pipes. The fluid then absorbs the underground heat.
The system then transports this warmed fluid to an above-ground heat exchange that converts the heat to the in-home HVAC system. This heat can then move around the home. These systems can also reverse the effect, cooling homes in warmer climates.
While geothermal pumps may utilize non-renewable electricity, their overall use tends to be more efficient. By some estimates, for every unit of electricity a geothermal unit uses, the system pulls 5 times the amount of energy from the ground. This not only means there is less pressure on the environment, but homeowners tend to save a significant amount of money in heating or cooling their homes.
Adopting energy-efficient technology in your home is one of the most accessible ways to live sustainably. Smart lighting and heating systems, solar panels, and geothermal HVAC are all more affordable than ever. Not to mention improvements in the technology design tend to make them greater tools for efficiency. While there may be some initial cost outlay for this tech, it’s also worth bearing in mind that energy efficiency reduces long-term utility costs. As such, your actions both help the planet and are better for your pocket.
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