A month in a smarter home
2018 marked an important year for me. Electricity use in the home is now back to the level it was when I was born in 1984. Despite being more dependent on electricity than ever before, energy efficiency has developed in such a dramatic way that we are reducing overall energy use which peaked in 2005.
As followers on Instagram and Twitter will know, I recently decided to see what the smart home buzz was all about. I have begun by changing my home to Phillips Hue lights (other brands available and I’m not being paid by them!). I changed around 40 bulbs around the home to smart bulbs that each connect to the internet via a bridge. For example I changed 26 spot lights that each used 30W to smart bulbs that use 5W, an 80%+ energy saving. This is slightly offset by the fact they are always on and the bridge they connect to is also always on. For reference, each bulb will be drawing a fraction of a Watt and the bridge about 0.1W in low power state. Overall it’s a significant saving.
The functionality however has been a real benefit (and reduced overall power use) and an amazing introduction to the internet of things (IoT). The mix of dimmable and colour options means that you can programme scenes with each bulb independently changing to a set luminosity and colour. For example, I have scenes for watching a film, for dining with friends, for reading and working and even a disco theme from a third party app for the kids to dance to. Often there are far fewer bulbs on than was the case before with the arrays of bulbs linked to physical switches that was the case before. Bed time and wake ups for the children are all automated with bulbs gradually dimming to mimic sunrise and sunset. I’ve several times been able to turn off lights that I may have left on before for hours if it’s been forgotten from home or left on upstairs.
Everything can be controlled from a voice hub (several different types are available) meaning a quick ask to Google, Siri or Alexa will change the lights. This step into smarter appliances has also made me think of the human implications, ethical, philosophical and societal that the dependence and new relationship with technology that these innovations are bringing but that’s not for this blog. I am very pleased with both the functionality and energy saving this has brought. My next voyage into the smart home space will be a smart thermostat. In the future potentially my fridge, washing machine and other appliances may all be internet connected and may all be actively be saving me energy and money. Check here for further innovations.