Manufacturers of home automation systems are pairing up with makers of weather stations to help smart homes run more efficiently and conveniently based on the current temperature, daily forecasts, precipitation, and more. It’s a partnership that makes a lot of sense. According to a recent study commissioned by National Grid, an electricity and natural gas company with nearly 7 million customers, consumers can save 16.5 percent on energy costs when using a connected thermostat integrated with a weather station like WeatherBug Home, compared to 5.1 percent energy savings with a standard thermostat.
To bring this capability to consumers in one neat package, Icontrol Networks, a developer of home automation and security platforms, recently teamed up with Earth Networks, manufacturer of WeatherBug Home. The partnership brings Earth Networks’ proprietary weather data and energy usage analytics to Icontrol customers.
“This partnership lets our customers offer a new level of automation,” says Bob Hagerty, CEO of Icontrol Networks. “The valuable insights that come from weather data, such as temperature, wind speed, and solar insolence, coupled with a home’s energy usage insights, will make energy management devices more intelligent and efficient than ever before.”
National Grid says that 50 percent of a home’s energy usage is driven by the weather conditions. Think about it: When it’s cold outside you adjust the thermostats, when it’s humid you crank the humidifier, when the sun is intense and the outdoor temperature is sweltering, you juice up the AC and run the fans.
WeatherBug home develops a unique thermodynamic model for each home to more precisely forecast the amount of energy needed to heat or cool each home on each day, and then translates that learning into intelligent optimization of home energy so consumers can save money and remain comfortable at the same time. Consumers are also provided customized insights on their energy use, predictive costs, and personalized tips on how to save money.
“Helping customers connect the dots between weather patterns and their energy usage is a powerful tool that helps customers become more informed on how and when they use energy,” says Ed White, vice president of New Energy Solutions, National Grid. “As the concept of smart connected homes continues to grow, offering this kind of user-friendly, intuitive platform will drive behavior changes.”
Icontrol Networks isn’t the only company utilizing weather data to optimize the performance of its automation system. Comcast has announced that it will incorporate WeatherBug Home into its Xfinity Home system.
Here’s how an automation system can add value to your home by responding to weather conditions:
- Motorized windows can close at the first drop of rain or when the day’s forecast is calling for rain
- Motorized window shades can close when the sun is intense to minimize solar gain and allow the AC to run efficiently. Or, during the winter months, the shades can open to use the heat from the sun to help warm the house
- Thermostats can adjust based on the outdoor temperature and humidity level.
- Ceiling fans can activate when it’s hot outside
- Motorized awnings can close on windy days