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Home Automation and energy savings
August 22, 2005, Nick Morton

Home automation technology offers interesting possibilities extending into energy use and reduction. Through a web interface over the Internet (Indigo, XTension), or even through your mobile phone or PDA, you can directly control and monitor multiple facets of your home: lights, air conditioning, heating, and even whether the drapes are pulled. You can also delegate control to sensors which detect temperature, rain, humidity, motion, or light levels.

Recently, Fujitsu developed a light bulb which informs you via SMS when it dies. Although mundane, this light bulb points towards self-contained, automated system-components, which can be simply plugged into the existing (albeit enhanced) electrical infrastructure of the home. Although not focused on energy use, Microsoft and GE have a partnership exploring this concept (as do other companies, all to various degrees of success).

These control systems provide alternate and possibly more usable interfaces for appliances, such as temperature control through voice (HAL2000, Kelvin), phone, or computer (screenshot) -- better understanding and control mean an increased likelihood of more effective use. Remote or automated management of home systems can lead to cumulative energy savings, while remote and smart sensors can respond to climate or seasonal conditions (turning lights on later in the summer), or control functions on a room-by-room basis. Systems range from DIY (x-10Europe, Maplin, Laser) to professionally installed.
Posted by Dave Chiu


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