The concept of a “smart home” in recent history, seemed to be a concept reserved for both the wealthy and technology enthusiasts. This was primarily down to the extreme costs of installation, smart-home cost products required, coupled with compatibility issues and necessity within the home. After all was it more convenient to turn off your living room lights from a tablet, rather than using a traditional switch plate that has worked so well for us for so long, that we now interact with our switches out of habit and without second thought?
But with the huge advancements in technologies such as our smart phones and the smart home products that are now available, household can take a level of control over every aspect of their homes to levels that would have previously seemed inconceivable. Smart-home systems it can be argued, have surpassed a convenience factor, and have now helped us improve the safety of our homes and track our consumption and costs across all major utility spends.
With these smart technologies now a common practice in most homes with devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google home device the question still arises: Do smart home devices help you save energy and reduce household bills, or does consumption stay the same and we are just now more conscious of our utility costs?
We have done research in this area to shed light on the topic but also provide guidance as well.
Understanding the homes energy consumption
Before we can truly begin to understand how smart home technologies could begin to save us energy, thereby saving us money and saving the planet from further carbon emissions (which continue to rise year on year despite a Carbon Neutral target set for 2050 in the U.K), we need to understand what areas of our home are using the most energy so we can build a system of smart devices around them to help us. Your amazon Alexa that is connected to your television is not going to help you reduce your electric bill for example, neither is your smart meter provided by your supplier. They might be able to indicate how much you are using, but this is where their capability and support ends. The main areas that each household creates carbon emissions from and therefore consumes the most energy is:
Heating the home
Heating the water
Lighting & Appliances
Diet and Agriculture
A report conducted by both the Committee on Climate Change & the Energy Saving Trust
shows that 50+% of every household’s contribution to carbon emissions coupled with 42% of their overall utility energy costs can be contributed to heating the home and water within our homes. This is equivalent to almost three Tonnes of CO2 a year just from these two areas alone.
According to Ovo Energy, the average household utility bills cost an eye-watering £1,289 a year in 2019 with that set to be higher in 2020 and higher again in 2021. Broken down, this would mean the average household spend is in the region of £541.30 a year just to heat their homes and water. In addition, when you consider that most domestic houses in the UK do not use heating for 7 months of the year, it means that in the months which they do, they are using over £108 a month worth of energy to achieve this!
How can smart-home systems help:
With such a huge portion of our energy consumption being confined to this single area there is some great news. Any small improvements made in this area of your home will have a large impact on the energy you use and therefore the money you can save. There have also been a vast number of smart-home systems, products and service created to support this aided by significant legislation change in the last 5 years. The most notable are the EcoDesign Lot20 legislation and the pending gas ban on all new build homes from 2025 onwards. Products like The Nest Learning Thermostat uses self-programming technology to learn as you heat, calculating what times of the day you prefer it to be warmer or cooler. After just one week, Nest will then create an Auto-Schedule for your home, managing your heating so you no longer have too. This will reduce the amount of energy you use by reducing waste.
Ascot Wi-Fi heaters are fully app controllable and each come equipped with their own thermostat. The free iHeat app allows you to control each individually and ensures that you are only heating the rooms you require. One of the heaters primary functions is to limit the energy consumption per room to what it needs to be to sustain the level of heating required. Products like this that run off a central thermostat can reduce your heating costs by over 43% and as they are electric, it is 100% efficient compared to a traditional gas wet system which is closer to 60% energy efficient. Thermo-fluid radiators are extremely more energy efficient than other sources of electric heating and are completely customisable to suit the homeowners requirements as and when they change over the course of the year or even the day. Additional features in products like the Ascot electric heating range include open window sensors, digital programmable settings, eco modes, anti-frost modes and much more. This product range also requires zero maintenance, saving you £100’s of pounds each year on servicing costs.
Another area that has seen an increase in energy consumption and a wave of smart home technologies recently to combat them is the domestic transport markets making up over 34% of a households carbon emissions. EV cars have become the talking point with huge advances being made by leading manufactures such as AUDI, BMW and TESLA.
TELSA’s full electric cars have been the poster child for advancements in this field. But surely the costs of charging your vehicle at home would see your utility costs increase?
The short answer is yes. Your electricity consumption will increase however, according to Pod-Point the Tesla Model S 100D which can travel for over 320 miles will cost you £14 on average to fully charge. This contrasts with a combustion engine that would cost closer to £65 on average to achieve the same result. So, whilst your electricity may increase, your expenditure will reduce as too will your contribution to carbon emissions. With breakthroughs coming each year, and more and more charging stations being installed across the country, it is reasonable to believe that a large push towards EV cars and sustainable transport is in our imminent future and not a distant possibility.
Smart-home apps that enable us to monitor and budget these consumption factors easier than fossil fuel alternatives further support the argument that Smart-Home systems will help reduce household costs in our transport methods as well.
Lighting & Appliances
One of the most well documented and early adopters of modern technologies to reduce energy consumption has been LED lighting. A staple in almost every home and requirement in every new build. LED lighting has single handedly reduced energy consumption per household by an average of 86% due to their extended life compared to their incandescent predecessors they save even more carbon emissions by reducing waste. Appliances have also seen upgrades with higher EPC ratings (Energy, Procurement & construction rating) then ever before. Stemming from better production processes and materials used, to the energy they consume to perform their tasks. Items such as Fridges and Ovens have drastically reduced their consumption over the past ten years. But how do their smart-home companions help?
Is this smart enough?
In review of the impact these have on a households utility bills and energy consumption in an effort to further save money, it is important to note that as a whole this element of household consumption averages at around 9% of every home’s consumption. So small changes here will not make a huge impact to a utility bill, but it does contribute. Smart-Appliances in our research seem to be excellent and reduce waste as you are increase the visibility of all items consuming energy within the home, monitor their requirement and frequency level and measure this usage against what you actually require, there is no evidence to show from our sources that you can generate significant savings from having smart LED lamps over non-smart LED lamps. This choice is down to you.
Aviation, Diet and Agriculture plus waste are huge topics right now. These are all areas that must be addressed in the near future if the globe has any intentions of meeting carbon targets set by its governments. However, as there are not any significant smart home technologies that we have been made aware of to support these areas, we have not made any conclusions. However, they do total over 2,923 kg of CO2 per household.
To answer the question, do smart homes save us energy and money, we believe we have found enough supporting evidence to say yes. There are substantial and very affordable options available that enable us to significantly reduce our energy output in the core consumption areas of our homes, and so it is our belief that every household could save a minimum of 30% on their household costs by adopting smart home technologies. Items like Nest are readily available for less than £200 and Ascot Wi-Fi Electric heating products are as well. This accompanied with ensuring a home’s lighting and appliances are using modern LED lighting and well EPC rated appliances can see overall reductions of carbon emissions to each household by 4.7 tonnes of CO2. To put this in perspective, this is the weight of the average 4x4 car!
Is it time you moved over and began using smarter products in your home?
If you would like to know more about how Ascot smart Wi-Fi heating could hep you reduce your heating bills & carbon footprint contact us today. We provide FREE heating designs for projects of any size and our decorticated team are happy to assist with any other support you may need.