This is Part Two of our Green Smart Homes series – read the first part here

When we talk about ecological homes, many will imagine a picturesque cabin in the woods, utterly disconnected from the modern world. While there are a few who choose to live entirely off-grid, most of us are more and more reliant on technology in our daily lives which, on the surface, means that we’re more energy-dependent than ever.

As of Q1 2017, 89% of adults in the UK had used the internet in the past three months. What’s more, one in four consumers in the UK now own at least one smart device.

A total of 21.7 million IoT connections are expected to exist by the end of 2017, a number rising to 155.7 million by 2024. The increasing amount of technology we surround ourselves with means that our overall energy consumption (and energy costs) will soar unless we start thinking more carefully about what we are using and when.

Unlike with a conventional property, many technologies in the modern smart home – such as intelligent lighting, smart heating control and motorised shades – are designed specifically to reduce a building’s energy usage, along with the benefits they bring in terms of convenience and enjoyment.

Yet there is a troubling tendency for many older, legacy smart home systems to use more energy than they need thanks to high standby power wastage. In some cases, this can be up to 10% of total residential energy consumption. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to equipment for home entertainment – such as receivers and set-top boxes – which can draw quite a lot of energy whilst in standby mode.

We are becoming more and more reliant on technology in our daily lives

An area where energy usage often passes unnoticed is in a smart home’s technology rack (or head end), which efficiently organises a number of AV and smart home sources in a single location for more effective building management. This should be thermally managed so that equipment is maintained at a temperature to allow it to perform at its maximum efficiency for the entirety of its expected lifetime, but this isn’t always the case.

“Many installers leave several components – including multi-channel amps, network switches, AV sources and receivers and processors – switched on constantly,” explains Krystian Zajac, founder and chairman at Andrew Lucas London. “Although some of these are justifiable (it’s good to have your network switch always on, for example), an installer might be able to optimise the programming of the control system so that devices that aren’t being used are automatically turned off.”

Even if some devices need to remain on at all times, they can often be maintained more efficiently. A well-designed rack includes both natural ventilation as well as effective airflow management so that cold air is taken in and hot air expelled quickly from the unit rather than allowed to circulate.

This is an area of the home that generally needs to be left to a specialist; as such, it is always worth approaching a home technology provider to see whether anything can be done to reduce any unnecessary energy use in a home’s rack without compromising on device performance.

Unless you are looking to build that cabin in the woods, thinking about IT, power and smart technology provision before starting to design a home is a sensible idea. Homes that are designed to adapt to both environmental and technological changes will be better at providing a platform for sustainable, carbon-neutral dwellings going forwards.

You can read Part Three of our Green Smart Homes series on our site next week, or download the full white paper below:

 

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