Electronic Design featured a great article that hit home for our team (pun intended). “Is It Time For Home Automation To Go Mass Market?” has spawned some great internal conversations here at Altia. In it, author Ross Sabolcik extols the beauty of tech-laden homes but notes that “home automation still seems relegated to the ranks of enthusiasts or high-end homes”. Included in this arena are lighting and AV, security, fire and life safety (fire suppression, smoke or C02), environmental (HVAC or climate), and networking (telephony and data). The growing focus is on energy management and savings: commonly referred to the Smart Grid.
And while the various components are developing separately, it is the consolidation and integration of the various systems that will see growth in coming years: a single platform for all ‘connected home’ components.
While we won’t claim to be gurus of the home automation or smart grid space, we’re no spring chickens when it comes to the user interface side of things. We see a natural progression towards high-end touchscreen LCD panels to manage all of your ‘wired’ systems. And of course we’re working with companies right now who are tackling this exact challenge.
On our blog this week, we’ll do a few posts dedicated to this topic. Specifically: questions and ideas that have come up related to home automation as well as this growing area of ‘Smart Grid’…using technology to manage resources. Clearly a hot topic given the state of the economy.
So here are a few questions that have come up related to the article and topic. Today: a few thoughts on Smart Grid and resource management.
- The Smart Grid initiative is focused primarily on management of electricity. Would you use a Smart wireless device that gave you real-time ability to manage your daily energy usage and saved money on your energy bills?
- The stakes for the US economy are huge and increasingly a matter of national security — dependence on foreign oil, skyrocketing oil and gas costs, wealth transfer to the oil importers and effects of climate change.
- The perpetually-soaring utility bills gives every consumer motivation to cut their usage 10%+ … just to stay even with where they were last year. Visibility into the electric usage in most cases is an unknown until the consumer receives the bill …with no understanding of where their kWh are going.
- Today’s homeowner is also faced with skyrocketing heating costs. Homeowners in the Northeast are facing $3.00+ oil this winter. If a smart device knew gallons available and used from the tank, weather projections for the next 14 days, and an energy coefficient for the residence (what the oil companies do with automatic fill), it could make simple usage calculations for the next 14 days based on the homeowner’s thermostat settings. Would the average homeowner spend 5 minutes optimizing the Smart device thermostat settings to get another 2 to 3 days out of their tank of oil and cut their oil usage by 10%?
What do you think? Would you use a smart grid panel in your home? Do you currently have any ‘home automation’ installed? Leave comments below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.