It’s tough to imagine technology enabling a home to conserve so much energy that it’s able to sustain itself. After all, electronic systems require power to operate, and when a residence is outfitted with some of the most elaborate lighting and automation systems on the planet, it’s natural to envision an electric bill that’s through the roof.
Significant household energy savings seem even more unbelievable when it happens in a house that stretches almost 13,000 square feet.
Lutron’s HomeWorks QS Manages Power Consumption
In many cases, a big home with a big technology footprint would equate to a big power suck, but by leveraging the intelligence and integration friendliness of a Lutron HomeWorks QS system, the home systems integrators from Conundrum Technologies, of Avon, Colo., were able to create a home environment that’s so energy efficient that it earned Net-Zero status (A Net-Zero home produces the same amount of power that it consumes).
Achieving a Net-Zero rating wasn’t something that the team at Conundrum, nor the homeowners, took lightly. Often, investing in technology for energy savings takes a back seat to fun features like home theaters and whole-house audio systems. But for the owners of White Hawk Ranch, energy efficiency was a top priority. It had to be, given the stringent homebuilding mandates in Boulder, Colorado, where the home is located. Per Boulder building codes, any house that measures more than 5,000-square feet must be Net-Zero. Based on its size, White Hawk Ranch definitely qualified.
36,605 kWh of Electricity; $167 Utility Credit
It would take a lot more than energy efficient LED light bulbs to help this home operate in the red. A complete lighting control system working in concert with the home’s heating and cooling system, automated window shades, and a photovoltaic (PV) system would be this home’s answer to a 100 percent sustainable, carbon neutral existence—a solution that would not only enable the owners to produce and sell back energy to their local utility, but do so in a way that required no extra effort or change in their lifestyle. “The accuracy that the Lutron HomeWorks QS system provides for dimming LED technologies is second to none, an area in which Lutron leads the industry,” says Jason Perez, Conundrum Technologies’ chief executive officer.
Most of the energy savings occur automatically, as governed by the custom-programmed and carefully engineered Lutron HomeWorks QS system. Leveraging the HomeWorks QS system’s ability to communicate with and manage other electronic systems, Conundrum Technologies put the HomeWorks QS system in charge of monitoring the amount of electricity generated by the Sun Power PV system and making intelligent decisions on how to set the lights, window shades, and thermostats based on available solar energy. “The HomeWorks QS system singlehandedly manages 36,605 kWh of electricity annually,” Perez says. “The HERS rating for this home was -3, meaning that the overall energy use annually will produce a credit of $167 from the utilities.”
Daylight Harvesting Helps Conserve Energy
Additionally, lights dim, shades lift and lower, and thermostats adjust automatically during the day to make the most out of available sunlight. For example, when sensors detect a high level of sunlight, they signal the HomeWorks QS system, which responds by lowering the shades on the sunny side of the house to minimize heat gain. “This helps conserve energy by reducing the strain on the AC system to keep the house cool,” Perez explains. Other times, the HomeWorks QS system might open the shades to help warm the house and reduce the need for artificial lighting—and with 144 lighting loads available, the chance to use sunlight to illuminate the house can make a huge difference.
No matter what the HomeWorks QS system decides to do, its status and the status of everything connected to it is fed to the homeowners via the Lutron Connect app, viewable on their smartphones. Meanwhile, the status of the Sun Power system goes to the home’s Savant home control app. Conundrum added a Savant home control system to give the owners another method of interacting with the lights, shades, HVAC, and PV system, as well as the whole-house audio system and other features.
Automatic adjustments to reduce energy consumption is the key to effortless savings. The owners report that they have saved $1,500 a month on their electricity bills. Additionally, Conundrum installed Lutron’s Palladiom keypads throughout the residence for on the spot management of the home’s HomeWorks QS ecosystem. From any keypad, or from the Lutron Connect or Savant app, the owners can initiate lighting scenes for various activities like entertaining, relaxing, and sleeping. For each scene, the settings of the lights adjust automatically based on the time of day. For example, if the entertain scene is engaged at night, the lights will be brighter than when the entertain scene is activated during the day. Keypads also help the homeowners “shut down” parts of the home that aren’t in use.
As the owners of White Hawk Ranch have discovered, technologies like the HomeWorks QS system can foster a lifestyle of luxury and frugality. Governed by this system, LED lights and other electronic elements are able to beautifully accentuate features of the home and enable the homeowners to live comfortably, while curbing energy use for huge paybacks on their electricity bills.
Want your shades lowered? Do it in seconds from a smartphone. Not sure if you locked the door when you left the house or left the garage door open? Again, it’s as easy as pressing a button on your smartphone.
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