Managing the large number of appliances and devices efficiently can be a tedious process. This is where home automation comes in. Apart from the convenience it provides to users, home automation also ensures correct utilisation of energy, writes Avinash K. Gautam, Vice President – Security and Automation, Silvan Innovation Labs, Bengaluru.
We live in a time unlike any other; with so many technological advancements at our fingertips, our lives are made easier. However, when one thinks of technology of such level, costs are always a concern. There are devices for just about everything right from your kitchen to your entertainment systems or even your bathrooms.
We cringe at our electricity bills every month and try hard to figure out why the bills have been escalating. The truth is, managing the large number of appliances and devices efficiently can be quite a tedious process and this is where home automation comes in; apart from the convenience it provides to its users, it also ensures correct utilisation of energy helping one save costs.
If we look at the energy usage pattern of our homes, there is a lot of energy which gets consumed at places where they are not needed: a light on a room where no one is there, AC on late in the night even when you are shivering, TV and AV system in standby mode all day long draining energy, and so on. Most people do not realise that these standby currents contribute as much as up to 30 per cent of energy bills in their homes!
It is not that people are purposefully wasteful. Everyone wants to conserve energy and thereby save on electricity bills and at the same time be responsible towards the environment we live in. But we cannot be on our toes all the time, and a little help from technology here can prove to be quite beneficial. Home automation does not only make your life easier, it also helps you cut down on expenses which are avoidable to a large extent. There are primarily two ways through which home automation helps conserve energy: through energy source and energy optimisation.
From the energy source point of view, home automation comes with a solar panel and intelligent UPS which charges from solar as much as possible, and switches to utility power only when solar source is not sufficient. The house will be driven by solar power as much as possible, and would switch to utility power only when solar power is not available. Therefore, from the energy source itself, home automation seeks to control electricity.
From an optimisation point of view home automation ensures that electricity is used only when it is exactly needed which has a huge impact on overall energy consumption. One can create energy efficient “moods” through home automation which helps to save a considerable amount of energy. For example, in the afternoon, if the AC is programmed to turn on, we can also make the curtains draw along with it as well as a routine. This will ensure proper energy utilisation of the AC which otherwise we fail to give much thought to.
Another aspect of home automation is ‘occupancy based appliance control’ which helps to reduce energy consumption by only keeping appliances on when the space is occupied by someone. For example, lights, AC only come on when the sensors detect a person occupying the room. Therefore, there is precise consumption of energy which eliminates even a slight amount of wastage.
As far as the kitchen is concerned, modern era kitchens are a storehouse of various appliances like kitchenettes, fridge, microwave oven, mixer grinder etc. With the use of new appliances, energy consumption is an issue for many, the main reason being mismanagement of the appliances leading to long electricity bills. Home automation enables you to control your electricity consumption. Also, you can monitor the kitchen when you are away from home. You can switch off the appliances by just pressing a single button may be on your smartphone or tab.
More often than not, we use appliances and devices but always forget to switch off the mains. We might find it inconvenient to reach out to each and every main switch, reason being too many of them or awkward positioning of the switches.
Home automation helps minimise the standby current consumption (source of almost 30 per cent of energy bills) by “Hard Off” of all devices. “Soft Off” is what we generally do, i.e. switch things from the remote, “Hard Off” is what we forget to do, switch off everything from the mains.
Home automation solves that problem for you, with one click on your smartphone or tablet you can do a “Hard off” for all your appliances and devices, which helps you save way more than you thought you could. Also, Smartness built into the automation system to know when to do “Soft Off” and when to do “Hard Off”, so that usability of the system is not compromised.
With automation you can set self-timers which can turn off the appliances after a preset period of inactivity. Using timer switches can also help you avoid unnecessary consumption of electricity and provides an inexpensive solution to the problem of forgetting to turn lights and appliances. Timer/mood based use of resources like geysers, exterior lights etc. so that those resources are switched off and do not get used unnecessarily.
Lighting accounts for a big chunk of your electricity costs. Home automation contains sensors which allow you to use electricity judiciously. A light-sensing system will automatically turn on when they detect movement and turn off when there’s no one in the room. ‘Daylight harvesting’ contributes largely in minimising electricity bills. The automation adjusts the light intensity based on ambient light to optimise energy needed for lighting. Not only is this good for the environment by cutting the amount of heat that lighting produces, but it also saves you a lot of money on your electricity bill!
There is definitely a greater need for appliances and electricity costs may surely be on the rise, but there is much we can do from our end to control costs. However, amidst our hectic routines it can become difficult to be alert at all times and home automation helps to go the extra mile to cut costs easily and with hardly any effort.