Smart and connected home products are growing in popularity and they offer more than just convenience and "cool” factor. As our energy demands rise with more electronically powered devices entering our homes, the topic of energy savings and efficiency become increasingly important.
From the consumer standpoint, we want to save money on electricity bills, but did you know utility companies are concerned with reducing electricity usage as well? It may seem counterintuitive, but grid management is crucial to utilities, and therefore, preserving energy and incentivizing energy-efficient products is top of mind.
Enter the integrated home. According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) the integrated home is a connected, fuel neutral, efficient home where devices and systems seamlessly communicate to optimize value for both customers and the utility grid and distribution systems. The CEE is so committed to the vision of an integrated home, they hold an annual competition that identifies and supports newly available products that will work to achieve this vision without compromising consumer amenity.
A fully integrated home may seem like a futuristic goal; however, there are attainable products available on the market today that can help you move towards connectivity and energy savings.
The importance of interoperability
The technology and capabilities of smart products are changing rapidly, and it seems there is a new one on the market every day. So, how can we move towards an integrated home when we are piecing together various products over an extended period? That’s where interoperability comes into play. When bringing new connected products into your home, looking for those that “play nice” with other products is important.
Reliability and simplicity are key
A smart, connected home is ultimately supposed to make your life easier and more enjoyable, so reliable, easy-to-use products are key. Complex doesn’t always mean better. Some of the most-loved connected products on the market today are quite simple, so don’t be fooled. If you’re looking into a new product or system and it just seems too complicated from the start, it may not be right for you.
A good place to start
Part of the CEE’s Integrated Home Competition guidelines are to identify products that will work well with existing and future connected systems, while being consumer-friendly, so searching their winning products is always a smart idea.
Another option is to start small. Lighting is an excellent place to begin when it comes to adding smart products to your home because it packs a lot of bang for your buck. Not only do you use it every day, but relatively inexpensive products like app-controlled LED light bulbs or connected light switches allow you to take a step towards more energy-efficient, intelligent products with less concern about having to change them again in the future.
Trained experts at your local ALA-member lighting showroom can help you learn more about the latest connected lighting products on the market. If you’re interested in learning more about integrated homes and the CEE, check out this episode of ALA’s podcast, where CEE Principal Program Manager Alice Rosenberg discusses the process of evaluating smart home products and why this topic is so important.
Photo by Lutron