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Green Homes—Electronic Controls
Sampling the Marketplace
A surprising array of products are available or being developed to help conserve energy in the home. Leviton, for example, produces lighting controls, wireless controls, and power line controls. Levitons Sullivan offered examples of what its products can do.
“Consider a lighting circuit controlled by a traditional toggle switch,” he says. “Turn on the switch and each bulb instantly goes to 100 percent every time. Replace that switch with Leviton’s Vizia + or Vizia RF + dimmer and, beyond the obvious ability to dim the lights, the user has added benefits. If the new Energy Save Mode is engaged, the user will reduce energy consumption every time that dimmer is used because that mode allows a maximum brightness level to be preset. The return is savings in energy use and extended bulb life.”
Sullivan says the benefits can be expanded by uniting all home control devices into a common wireless system, such as Leviton’s Vizia RF +, which uses Z-Wave® wireless technology and allows a homeowner to schedule events such as turning the porch lights on or dimming them at specific times. The system also provides the consumer with remote access capability.
Home Automation, Inc., (or HAI), based in New Orleans, LA, manufactures control systems and products, including energy management tools. CEO Jay McLellan says a home often has many control components and it doesn’t cost much more to make them work together for homeowner comfort and convenience. HAI’s tools include programmable communicating thermostats that have the ability to exchange information with an electric meter to show the current cost of energy, amount of energy used, and what the next utility bill will be.
The company’s heavy-duty control modules can control water heaters and pool pumps. With its home control system, which can link remotely to handheld mobile devices, users can monitor and control lights and temperatures as well as security, audio and Web cams.
Intermatic, based in Spring Grove, IL, manufactures consumer and industrial energy control products. Its InTouch and HomeSettings control systems both use Z-Wave protocol. Intermatic’s Whitcomb says the company’s home controls can be wired into the wall or plugged into receptacles. They can work alone or as part of a whole-house network.
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