December 16, 2009
| by Steven Castle
Yes, energy monitoring systems help save energy—and can help earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points in green and energy-efficient homes.
An innovative use of a Control4 home automation and energy monitoring system helped earn the Green Life Smart Life home project LEED Gold Status, and helped it helped lower the home’s HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score to 58, a 42 percent improvement over the average American home. (A zero-energy home is 0 on the HERS index.)
The home’s Control4 system consolidates major subsystems such as lighting and HVAC into a single whole-home automation platform, and uses a ZigBee enabled device to deliver data from the utility meter to the Control4 home automation system. The system monitors and aggregates data from all electricity loads in the house with real-time analysis of usage and cost. This is one of the first non-trial residential installations of a Control4 energy management system in the country.
With appliances such as the refrigerator plugged into sensing modules and other electronics on the network, the controller can see what is turned on and when, read the total power usage of the home and determine which electric loads are causing power drains.
With that information, the system can provide an hour-by-hour breakdown of all the devices on the network, the lighting system, and electricity used to power the geothermal heat pumps—and display that information on the screen of a touchpanel or a connected TV. The Control4 system can then manage those energy loads by having the Lutron system cut power to devices or dim the lights.
The system also individually manages and monitors the family charging station, the entertainment system rack, the lighting control system, and the televisions in the home.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates