Technology to Help You Be Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly This Summer

This is a guest post by Maria Ramos, who offered to share her research on these new technologies with my readers.  I’m not a smartphone user myself and don’t carry any other high-tech device routinely, which is one way to conserve energy…but if you’re already carrying a device or you’re considering getting one for other reasons, adding energy efficiency to its tasks is a great idea!  Also, some of these products are things you set up in your home that don’t require a “smart” device to control them.  It’s interesting to learn what’s new in climate control!

Maria is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication.  She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

With summer just around the corner, many people expect to use their air conditioners heavily in order to stay cool during sweltering days. Doing so, however, traditionally consumes a lot of electricity, costing a pretty penny and harming the natural environment. This situation is changing with the development of new technological products that aim to cut energy consumption with consequent benefits both to the earth’s ecology and consumers’ pocketbooks.

The Apple Watch and HomeKit app aim to make it easy to control devices from different manufacturers from a single interface. As long as they use compatible products in their homes, people will be able to adjust their thermostats, dim and raise lighting levels and manage a lot of other functions right from their Watches. They can thus turn off appliances when they don’t need to use them, reducing energy consumption. Many smart home devices from different producers haven’t worked well together in the past, but now they’re being brought together through the HomeKit interface.

Those who are put off by the Apple Watch’s high price, starting at $349, may be interested in the Misfit Flash fitness band, which only costs $50. Although it’s primarily designed to help users exercise more efficiently, Misfit has extended its capabilities through partnerships with other companies. Users can use the Flash to control thermostat equipment from Nest, smart home systems from Logitech, and many other devices. With the right products from partner firms, users of the Flash will be able to lower their energy usage by finely controlling the performance of their home equipment. Umbrela bills itself as a “luxury all in-one DIY Smart Home solution” that homeowners install by replacing conventional light switches with Umbrela modules. The Umbrela units come with sensors that can detect when someone’s home or not. When you’re away, Umbrela can automatically adjust lighting, heating, cooling, and other systems to conserve energy. People can install a single Umbrela panel in one room to try it out and then easily expand their network later on with additional units in other parts of the house.

The Nest Learning Thermostat can be quickly set up in fewer than 30 minutes. Users can adjust desired temperatures by turning it up or down like a normal thermostat, but that’s only the beginning of what’s possible. After you use it for about a week, this device will learn what temperatures you prefer during the day and automatically adjust your ambient temperature accordingly. With the “auto-away” feature, the Learning Thermostat will determine when you’re not home and then enter a special mode to conserve even more energy.

Ecovent consists of a series of smart vents that employ sensors to detect temperature, air pressure and humidity in every room of your house. The system integrates with your existing HVAC equipment. Using the information from the sensors, Ecovent opens and closes the vents to achieve desired temperatures, allowing for climate control on a per-room basis. By not heating or cooling rooms that are seldom used, Ecovent can save you money without adversely affecting the livability of the rooms that you do use every day.

In addition to being smart about conserving energy and carefully choosing your energy provider, you can use smart home technologies to maintain your personal comfort without wasting electricity. By shutting off unneeded heating, air conditioning and lighting systems in rooms that are seldom used or in areas of the home where nobody’s present, significant monetary and environmental benefits can be achieved. As this type of tech continues to mature and develop, we could see many of these systems come standard with new homes, enabling almost everyone to partake of their benefits.

Visit Waste Not Want Not Wednesday for more waste-reducing ideas!  Visit Works-for-Me Wednesday for more great tips on all areas of living!

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3 thoughts on “Technology to Help You Be Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly This Summer

  1. I’m sorry to say that Ecovent has been widely discredited among energy auditors … it may make your home more comfortable by allowing different rooms to have different temperatures and humidity, but the consensus at this point is that it does not save energy and may cause mold issues by allowing humidity to condense within uninsulated interior walls where that would otherwise not occur.

    See this article for example: http://www.energysmartohio.com/blog/ecovent–treating-symptoms-instead-of-the-disease

    Sorry to be a wet blanket!

    • Thanks for the information! I was thinking, based on the description, that it’s basically the same idea as manually closing vents in rooms you aren’t using–which doesn’t work very well because the furnace/AC isn’t designed for that and may work inefficiently because of it, and because heat and humidity travel between rooms through the walls. The article you linked explains this well and explains some more effective (not high-tech) solutions to the problem of uneven heating or cooling.

  2. Pingback: 5 Must-See Environmental Documentaries | The Earthling's Handbook

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