Will Interest In Power Management Finally Drive Home Automation?

from the power-me-up dept

Home automation solutions have been something of a fun toy for geeks for many, many years but are still pretty far from mainstream. However, a new force may drive new adoption: the fact that home automation systems can often track how much energy different electronics are using. Prior to this, people weren’t all that sure how much energy their consumer electronics were slurping up. But with some new home automation systems, they get a much better view into what’s being used and how — and how to change usage to cut down on the electricity bill. Of course, that makes you wonder if today’s obsession with big flat screen TVs (known as the SUVs of the TV world) will get a bit of pushback.

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Comments on “Will Interest In Power Management Finally Drive Home Automation?”

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Freedom says:

Doubt It...

As someone that has spent way too much time and money automating a lot of aspects in my home, I just don’t see the real value, or that the current energy woes would cause any real change to the HA market. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff I’ve done, but it would be a hard sell to a lot of folks.

There will most likely be an upsurge in auto-timers and programmable thermostats though, but I just don’t see the ROI for any involved automation systems.

To me, what has a better chance of taking off is solar power, thermal ground energy type solutions, solar heaters, and CFLs. These actually have immediate/noticeable effect in most cases.

Bottom line, if you could afford a real home automation system, energy prices aren’t a major concern for you. Most likely any minor cost savings you’d achieved would probably be outweighed by all the new ‘automation’ products in place.


Wallace says:

Re: Doubt It...

I guess for some people it’s all about saving energy and not money but this smarter HA system isn’t doing that anymore than a regular system. So this is targeting an even smaller group of people – geek environmentalists. The same group that already has solar and geothermal systems and now wants to get tighter control of the energy they use.

Twinrova says:

Great, another "guilty green" product.


When it comes to utilities, saving electricity doesn’t reduce your payment despite all the hoopla of doing so. In fact, utility prices have increased so much in the past 5 years it’s not going to save you anything.

If you want to cut down on your electric bill (and pocket some coinage at the same time), invest in solar panels.

Yes, I own an SUV TV. There’s no way in hell I’m going back to analog TV even if it runs on $1 per month!

Anonymous of Course says:

Re: Great, another "guilty green" product.

Reducing your electricity consumption always
saves you money. When the rates increase
conservation saves you even more money, even
if your bill wasn’t reduced. Solar panels?
The roi is terrible.

My home consumes less than half of the annual
kW/hr of the average home in my part of the
country. Yet I have only ONE CFL bulb in use,
the rest of them are incandescent. I turn off
the lights when I’m not in the room and use
efficient appliances in a frugal manner. Like
full loads in the laundry and so on… no big tv,
no dish washer. If it wasn’t for a 1200W stock
tank heater running over the winter I’d use much

I guess this is my SUV/flat panel TV. Keeping
livestock is something that I enjoy but don’t need.

It’s not that I’m green, or guilty. I’ve been trying
to cut down my utility bills since the early 70’s.
Ok, so I’m cheap. It’s also kind of a hobby. Wind
power, solar power, wood gas, you name it, I’ve probably
tried it. Conservation is by far the easiest approach
and requires the least out of pocket expense- zero.

What bugs me is I got a flier from the utility
detailing my monthly electricity usage last month.
Why? In an attempt to sell me “green” electricty
at an inflated rate. They’re mandated to provide
a percentage of the electrricity from alternative
sources so now they’re seeking ways to make it
profitable. In this case it’s wind power. Good
luck on maintaining a stable power grid if all
the wind generating facilities talked about go on

The only thing I want to hear from the utility is
ways to reduce my bill. Like off-peak rates for
water heating and other plans which they’ll NEVER
volunteer any information about. I read the complete
tarriff (rate book) recently, which is thick as a
phone book, and there’s damn little a person can do
to get a lower rate from my provider.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live like a monk and
don’t expect anyone else to do so either unless
it’s their desire. If you enjoy driving an
SUV or watching a big flat panel TV I see nothing
wrong in it, enjoy. Both should (and have) become
more efficient over time as the market demands it.

Moe Rubenzah (user link) says:

Awareness of energy costs

Hardly a killer feature but still a good idea. Few people realize what some of the gear costs. Consider that a 150 watt media center, on 24/7, costs $473 a year if you pay 36 cents a kilowatt-hour (a rate charged for additional energy on top of your current usage in some areas); or around $150/year if you’re at 12 cents/kWh.

Worth knowing and worth making people aware. Will it make us “greener?” Probably not. But may save some folks a few dollars and will increase awareness.

Phil Goldinger says:

Cooperation with Utilities

In central Pennsylvania our utility company is talking about having rates change throughout the day.

The problem with electricity is the lack of storage, so they need to generate more in the hot afternoon that at 3am. With smart appliances or control units, and rates that vary based on demand, they could cycle your fridge less during the afternoon freeing some power for the hungry AC units.

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