Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Smart Technologies: Making Your Life Easier

On average, household energy use has decreased more than 20 percent over the past 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, despite the fact that homes are bigger and full of more energy-consuming devices, such as electronics. Much of this savings is due to advances in energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and household appliances, as well as high performance windows. How will tomorrow's homeowners continue to live a more efficient lifestyle? This article highlights some of the latest technologies that will help you save energy, money, and time.


Source: www.energy.gov
Smart washer and dryer
Smart appliances

Technology integrated into smart appliances allows homeowners to control their energy use and costs. What technology? Microchips or controllers embedded inside smart appliances enable them to communicate with home energy-management systems, sending and receiving messages from mobile devices. Smart appliance technology can also be integrated with sensors and other devices, which enable the appliance to self-adjust and operate more efficiently.

Smarter refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and clothes washers include a number of innovative features designed to save you time and money:

  • Smart refrigerators count and display the number of times the door is opened and send alerts when the door is ajar. Some models include touch screens that display recipes and reminders or play Internet radio.
  • Smart dishwashers adjust the water temperature and cycle time automatically, based on load size. They use soil sensors that increase dishwasher efficiency and performance by continuously monitoring and removing food soil from water.
  • Smart ovens send text messages when food has finished cooking and homeowners can control the temperature remotely to keep food warm. Some are equipped with scanners that read smart codes printed on food packaging.
  • Smart washing machines send alerts when the wash cycle is complete or if the load is unbalanced. Some models provide remote control, as well as LCD screens with answers to common laundry questions.

Major manufacturers, such as GE and Whirlpool, are currently developing new lines of smart appliance products. Contact suppliers about specific features available with individual models.

Home energy monitors

Home energy monitors are fairly new on the market, but a number of models are currently available. They range in price from as low as $30 to as much as several hundred dollars. The price often depends on the complexity of the system and the available features. 

Two basic types of home energy monitoring devices include outlet monitors and whole-house monitors. Outlet monitors (or smart plugs) are placed between an individual appliance and the electrical outlet. Energy use and cost information is displayed on a small screen that is part of the device. Whole-house monitors track energy use and cost for your entire home in real time and over a specified period. Data is collected using a transmitter connected to the electric panel or a wireless sensor attached to the meter. Some models include software programs that display usage information in charts or graphs, providing insight into energy-use trends and allowing homeowners to better manage costs. 

More advanced home automation systems not only track energy usage, they also allow users to control temperature settings, and turn off lights and appliances remotely. These units tend to be expensive, however, and often come with annual service fees.

Appalachian Power is partnering with the West Virginia Library Commission to make Kill-A-Watt™ meters available for check out at some local libraries. The Kill-A-Watt™ meter is a device that measures the amount of electricity used by various household appliances. Contact your local public library to see if they are participating. 


Source: www.energy.gov
Smart thermostat
Next generation thermostats

Programmable thermostats can be complicated to use, but a number of advanced models are available to help optimize savings on your heating and cooling bills, and make adjusting temperatures easier and more convenient.

The Ecobee thermostat includes a touchscreen interface and Internet control from a mobile device. It comes with an online program that allows you to monitor heating and cooling system performance and manage your thermostat remotely. It also provides a five-day weather forecast for your area.

The Nest programs itself and continually adapts to your changing needs. After installation, it automatically creates a personalized schedule to optimize energy efficiency and fit your lifestyle. The Nest includes real-time wireless controls that can sense when your home is empty for an extended period and adjust temperatures as needed. 

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