October 21, 2010
| by Lisa Montgomery
You’ve been turning off the lights as you leave a room. You’ve waited to start the dishwasher utility rates are low. You’ve even conceded to wearing a sweater so you feel comfortable with the thermostats set back to 67 degrees. So you’ve taken the first steps toward living a greener, more energy-efficient lifestyle, but are these small changes making that big of a difference?
In the past, you had no choice but to wait for your monthly utility bills to see if your efforts were paying off. Or, you could invest in an energy monitoring systems that spewed information on a smallish tabletop display or to a site that required logging in for a look.
Today, energy management has a much friendlier face. Energy monitoring devices and systems can be integrated with home control systems so that data can be viewed on the same touchscreen, remote control, iPad, iPhone or other device that’s used to operate audio/video equipment, lights, surveillance cameras, motorized gates, irrigation systems, and other electronic gear. The information can be sent directly, without any modification, to the various home control displays; or a custom electronics professional (CE pro) can tweak the layout, graphics and labeling to suit your specific needs and to match the style of your home control system’s on-screen interface.
Bar graphs, pie charts, gauges and more can all effectively depict a home’s energy consumption. “We’ve really tried to make our interface informative as well entertaining to look at,” says Jon Sienkiewicz, director of marketing at URC (Universal Remote Control). But by far the best reason to stream your energy info to a home control interface? “Being able to see what you’re using is fine, but with a home control interface you’ll be able to do something about it immediately,” he adds. For example, if your home control touchscreen shows that your kilowatt consumption in the great room is through the roof, right then and there you potentially could engage a conserve mode that dims the lights, lowers the shades and adjusts the thermostats.
Click here to view examples of how manufacturers and CE pros are displaying your energy data.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.