Designing smart, efficient and greener homes
The smart home of the future is here, and it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before. It’s smarter, more efficient and greener than ever before.
Being future forward with your house design starts with making your home work smarter for you. The days of “smart” being synonymous with “hacked” are over, and now it’s about making your home work for YOU. We’re not just talking about convenience—we’re talking about helping you live a better life.
Designing a smart home also means considering what kind of technology should you consider integrating into your home so that you can live more efficiently and comfortably.
As we push further into a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future, having technology in our homes we can monitor our impact on the planet means that the idea of a smart home is more important than ever.
When you think about the way we live now, it’s clear that the way we design our homes needs to change. Our houses can become huge sources of wasted resources and untapped emissions which don’t reflect our values or our passion to leave the world a better place than we found it.
It’s easy to get so focused on making our homes look good that we forgot to make them actually useful and sustainable. And now, as technology advances at an exponential rate, we need to rethink how we can use it in our homes for more than just entertainment. We need to use our homes to heal both ourselves and our planet – and to turn them into mini Edens of solace and sustainability.
We’ve all heard the term “smart home” used to describe everything from a fully automated smart house to a simple thermostat that can be controlled remotely. But what is a smart home, really?
A smart home isn’t just about technology—it’s also about design. The best way to make your home smart is to combine elements of both, so that you can create an interiors that feel like part of a futuristic world and reflect your personal style at the same time.
But how do you design a smart home? Here are 10 ways to do just that:
Don’t try to change everything at once; instead, start with one room or area of your house that needs improvement and work from there. You can always expand later!
Installing solar can vary in complexity and cost, depending on which option you choose. The main hurdles for this project include budgeting wisely for it, including it in an existing architectural design and exploring the feasibility of installation (roof area and exposure to sunlight).
A smart solar system can usually boosted by either gas or electricity for heating during overcast weather or night time. This means that you are not drawing on the grid when the solar panels are in use, which means less carbon emissions and a lower electricity bill.
Watch your water use and heating
Water and energy use are closely linked – to reduce water consumption also reduces the energy used to heat and pump the water around your home. While the best way to reduce your footprint when it comes to water is to simply use less, in an Owners Corporation this is near impossible to enforce.
Simple things homeowners can do to reduce water use include:
- Ensuring there are no leaks throughout your water system
- Installing timed watering systems for shared gardens (use between 10pm and 6am will reduce evaporation)
- Replacing foreign plants with native alternatives requiring less water
- If your property has an outdoor pool, a cover can prevent the 90-95% of evaporation
Although an extensive undertaking, one way to help reduce your water use is to consider installing smart meters that
- Alert you to reduce water consumption to keep bills down
- Have easier leak detection and repair
- Are integrated with a solar hot water or heat pump
If you’re an EV car owner, consider an EV home charging solution
As more people charge their electric cars at home, smart home chargers are a way to tackle new energy related challenges that will arise for drivers and networks. Benefits of an EV charging solution include:
Utilising smarter energy
While an EV driver is saving money overall by powering their car with electricity rather than fossil fuels, their home energy bill will still be bigger than it was before. The good news is, unlike fossil fuels, there are lots of things that can be done to understand and reduce the cost of electricity to get further savings.
By adjusting your charging schedule to take place at certain times, it is possible to take advantage of time of use tariffs which have specific periods when electricity is cheaper. It is possible to schedule when your car charges either via most electric cars/associated apps, or via a smart home charger’s app.
Many smart home chargers monitor home and EV energy usage so you can get a clear understanding of cost per kWh, which enables you to determine how much you are spending and switch to cheaper tariffs.
Accessing greener energy options
Today an electric car is already greener than a combustion engine vehicle, but charging with ever more renewable energy makes electric car driving even more environmentally friendly.
In many developed countries, the electricity grid is continually getting greener with more and more renewable energy generation, such as wind power. While this means charging electric cars is getting more environmentally friendly overall, you can switch to one of the many renewable energy providers to make charging at home even greener.
Managing your load on home energy supply
Charging an electric car at home places additional load on your electrical supply. Depending on the max charging rate of your chargepoint and vehicle, this load can damage your main fuse.
To avoid overloading your main fuse, some smart home chargers automatically balance the power drawn by your chargepoint with the rest of your home, ensuring it never causes your total demand to exceed the max available supply.
Another benefit of this feature is the ability to have more than one chargepoint installed so that you can charge cars simultaneously without having to manually switch between them.
Other smart home quick ideas:
- Choose furniture with built-in charging stations
- Add motion sensors in key places
- Use voice commands for simple tasks (like controlling the lights)
- Install video cameras around the perimeter of your property so you can see who’s at the door before answering it
- Make sure all appliances are connected to Wi-Fi so they can be controlled remotely through an app on your phone or tablet
- Install smart locks so you don’t have to worry about keys when you’re away from home
- Install temperature monitors throughout the house so you can adjust temperatures remotely
- Use dimmer switches for lighting and avoid the use of halogen bulbs in your home’s interior lights
Most importantly, decide what matters most to you
Is it convenience or quality time spent together as a family? If convenience is priority number one (and who doesn’t want to save time?), then get some smart lights installed so that they turn on automatically when guests arrive or when it gets dark out—that way no one has to think twice about turning off the lights when they leave the room!
If quality time with family is more important than anything else (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?), then get some smart speakers installed so everyone can enjoy music together in the living room.
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Images: OKHA Interior design and furniture.