The invention of airplanes, the motorcar and electricity could be considered as three of the greatest inventions that brought about a complete transformation in the way we live and travel. Particularly the invention of electricity has led to advancement in every other field of science and technology resulting in improved safety, security, healthy and comfortable living. But on the negative side, the uncontrolled growth of energy consumption is threatening to be disastrous for us and for future generations due to depleting natural resources.
The Middle East region has one of the highest per capita electricity consumption in the world – Qatar, Kuwait and UAE being the top three consumers in that order. But what is worrying is the consumption pattern; as an example per capita consumption (average energy consumed by each individual) of Qatar is about 1.87 times that of the US and 4.24 times that of England.
While this imbalance could be partially attributed to the climatic conditions in this part of the world it could also be due to the fact that cost of energy is low in comparison to rest of the world and the citizens, residents and commercial establishments of these countries are blessed by the benevolence of the Governments in the form of subsidised electricity rates. Until now world over the focus of energy conservation efforts have been towards industrial sector, which is traditionally considered to be major consumers. But a study of the electricity consumption in 18 Arab nations in 2011 has revealed that a major chunk of 41% of the energy is consumed by residential consumers, only 26% by Industry, 19% by other sources and 14% by commercial enterprises. Probably based on such revealing studies lately these Governments are moving towards curbing the trend and charging realistic rates for energy consumed by residential consumers. It is high time every individual homeowner starts paying attention to their energy consumption and finding ways to implement measures to monitor and control it.
As it is said, identifying the problem is finding 50% of the solution; in order to control energy consumption in the residential sector we need to know which areas consume the maximum energy so that focused action could be taken. Recent statistics have shown that 50 per cent of household energy use in the Middle East is spent on cooling, 11 per cent on lighting, 8 per cent on water heating, 7 per cent on computer and electronics, 7 per cent on appliances, 7 per cent on refrigeration and the rest on other forms of consumption. That is to say that 70% of our energy bill goes to AC, lights and water heating. This article will walk you through information that will help you address this issue of containing the energy consumption in your home.
Air conditioning systems already have thermostats installed in them to maintain the desired room temperature. Setting the thermostat at the right temperature is key; keeping it too low can reduce your comfort. Besides keep in mind that increasing the temperature by 1 Degree C can reduce the energy consumption by a minimum 1% and up to 3% which is significant. So if the house is going to be un-occupied for lengthy periods of time when the family is travelling on vacation the ideal thing to do will be to switch off the AC altogether or run at intervals to maintain a temperature which is several degrees above normal when everyone is at home. Similar strategy could be adopted even during a normal day if there is no occupation because adults are at work and children are at school. Drawing the drapes, curtains or pulling down the shutters during the day particularly in the hot summer months will reduce heat gain. Similarly shutting of the AC system if you leave the windows open for any reason will prevent the AC to run continuously. Remembering to take all these precautions, change the thermostat temperature constantly and keeping track of all these may sound like drudgery and something impossible. But this is where the modern Home Automation systems come into play which when installed and programmed to suit your needs can automate all of the action steps mentioned above so that you don’t have to worry about any of these but enjoy the comfort and benefits. The Home Automation system with motorised curtains, wireless door window systems and digital thermostats controlled by the Home Automation Hub can take care of all these actions.
Lighting is an area where immediate savings can be made accomplished by replacing all incandescent lamps (the traditional filament lamps we have been using) with LED lamps. It is worth noting that though the LED lamps cost more initially they consume only about 10 to 12% of the energy consumed by incandescent lamps for the same light output, they also last about 6 times longer than incandescent lamps. An added advantage of the LED lighting their heat emission is very low unlike incandescent lamps which emit lot of heat (that is why they are inefficient – the electricity heats up the filament which is nothing but a heating coil element, and it is the white hot element that emits light) which is an additional load on your AC system. By installing dimming LED lamps they can be controlled through the Home Automation system. The advantage being you can either switch the lights off or dim it down to a level where safety and security is not compromised. Interior lights could be automated to switch off when the room is not occupied using presence sensor, or to switch off when the curtains are open and natural lighting is sufficient and there is no need to add artificial illumination. This is achieved by installing luminance sensors. Exterior lights such as the perimeter lighting, garden lights could be automated to go on/off depending on the actual sunrise and sunset timings, which the Home Automation system is capable of obtaining directly from the Internet.
All appliances such as the water heater and anything else that draws power from a socket outlet can be controlled by plugging in your appliance into a Smart Socket which in turn is plugged in to your existing wall socket outlet. As an example, the water heater plugged in to your Smart Plug can be switched on or off locally as you always did or programmed to switch on/off at specific timings or controlled from your cell phone or PC from your office if needed. Even when appliances are on standby mode they do consume some energy invisibly. Unlike water, which we fully control through a faucet, electricity flows directly to plugged-in electronic devices and appliances whenever the devices need power. Consider the number of such appliances that remain on standby throughout the day and night the cumulative consumption is significant enough not to be ignored. The Smart Plug needs to be part of your Home Automation system which is a simple do it yourself (DIY) installation project without any additional wiring.
The term Home Automation used to have an elitist connotation attached to it and was always though of to be complicated to install and unaffordable. Not anymore; fortunately due to technological advancement today the homeowners have at their disposal inexpensive devices and simplified Home Automation systems that could be installed by themselves as DIY project. Nor is the Home Automation system something that can be done only in newly built homes. All of the solutions we discussed and recommended by ATKNSN in the previous paragraphs are wireless and though a small number of devices need minor wiring changes they can be adopted to even existing homes and apartments.
Much of what has been said in the preceding paragraphs is applicable to your homes, offices and business establishments as well. There is scope for significant savings to be made. Irrespective of the individual benefits that are bound to accrue to our energy bills, as responsible citizens it is our duty to capitalise on technological advancements and take action so that we can contribute to the common good by conserving energy. If you would like to learn more or share your ideas, experiences in saving energy consumed in your home or office write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do check out the online store shop.atknsn.com for all your Home Automation requirements.