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Green Homes—Electronic Controls
New systems allow homeowners to manage power usage
Today’s home automation products allow homeowners to take an active role in managing power consumption while controlling home climate, lighting, and security.
People can start saving energy simply with single devices, says Steve Koenig, Industry Analysis Director of the Consumer Electronics Association , which represents 2,200 companies. A basic programmable thermostat can lower the heat or raise the cooling temperature when no one is home, thus saving money. A timer can consistently turn off outside lights at a certain hour instead of having them left on all night using up kilowatts.
. “People also don't think about appliances plugged into receptacles using energy when they’re turned off,” says Lisa Whitcomb, senior public relations specialist with Intermatic. “This phenomenon is known throughout the industry as vampire electronics. In a standby mode, some products such as a stereo or TV can still draw small amounts of power to keep them warmed up. When the InTouch outlet is powered off, all electric current is stopped from going through the outlet to whatever may be plugged in to it.”
Living “green” is also about reducing the carbon footprint, says Product Marketing Manager Grant Sullivan for Leviton Home Automation Products, based in Little Neck, NY. “Extending bulb life means fewer light bulbs are put in landfills,” he says. “Converting switches to dimmers means less energy is wasted”
Simply dimming a lamp has positive effects on energy usage. Sullivan says:
- Dimming a lamp 10 percent reduces energy use by 10 percent and provides twice the bulb life.
- Dimming a lamp 25 percent reduces energy use by 20 percent and provides four times the bulb life.
- Dimming a lamp 75 percent reduces energy use by 60 percent and provides more than 20 times the bulb life.
Beyond individual controls, having devices work together in a whole house system can add to energy savings. For example, a motion detector, noting there is no movement in the house, might reduce energy usage by the HVAC or dim or turn off certain lights.
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