Smart Technology Makes Saving Energy
Easier & More Affordable

                                                                                             By:  Andy Farmer, Virginia Energy Sense

Andy FarmerToday it seems technology is advancing faster than we could have imagined just a decade ago. In January 2007, Apple unveiled the first iPhone, dramatically altering our society by placing the power of a computer and the internet on a device that fit in our pockets. We can do things on smart phones today that we couldn’t do on desktop computers 10 years ago.

In the late 1990s, BlackBerry introduced its first email device, with a black and white liquid crystal display. And a decade before that cell phones were large fixtures installed in our cars that used large trunk or window mounted antennae. This rapid advancement of technology has been astounding. Fortunately for us, it’s occurring in a host of other sectors beyond the mobile phone and computer industries.

Advancements in energy technology have also been astounding. Over the last decade or so, advancements have been dramatic and have significantly altered the energy saving landscape for businesses and individual consumers. Advancements in thermostats, energy management systems, smart power strips and light bulbs are a few examples.

Thermostats As little as 15 years ago, most new housing constructions were built with manual thermostats that were operated by sliding a lever to set the temperature. While programmable thermostats were widely available as early as the late 1980s, they were deemed by most consumers as too expensive and not worth the investment, costing as much as $250, which would be equivalent to about $540 today. And most lacked the schedule customization features most basic thermostats have today.

By comparison, today’s thermostats are not only programmable, they can actually “learn” your schedule and virtually program themselves. In addition, many of today’s new programmable thermostats have smart phone capabilities allowing you to adjust your settings from anywhere.   And many can be connected to voice-activated smart speakers available for your home. All for as little as $150. But the best part is that this technology allows you to save significantly on your energy bill by dramatically reducing the cost of heating and cooling your home or workplace.

Smart Power Strips These items reduce your energy costs by shutting down power to items that go into standby mode. Most of these strips have one or two outlets that are always on, but the rest are constantly monitored and the strip cuts power to outlets as necessary. You can find one of these strips at a local retailer for about $20-25. Studies have shown that installing a smart power strip can result in up to a 10 percent reduction in your energy usage. These strips are perfect to use for computers, printers, televisions, cable boxes, DVD players, fax machines, and other items that often have standby modes. Consider buying one for your office and your home and watch your energy usage go down.

Energy Management Systems These are hardware and software based systems that give users virtually total control of energy usage in their home or workplace. While they can be very pricey, they can pay for themselves over time if used properly. Most can be operated via smart phone and Wi-Fi allowing users maximum control of their energy use.

These are just a few examples of how smart technological is helping people save energy every day. There are many other ways to save energy that wouldn’t be considered “smart technology” such as LED light bulbs, weather stripping, ceiling fans, and simple curtains or window shades.

Utilizing technology and a little bit of know-how and elbow grease, you can make a dramatic difference in the amount of energy you use, and the amount of money you spend on your energy.

You can visit http://www.virginiaenergysense.org/ to learn more about the importance of swapping out old incandescent bulbs for more efficient ones, as the energy and cost savings over time will benefit both your wallet and the environment.

Andy Farmer is the manager of Virginia Energy Sense, the Commonwealth’s statewide energy education program under the guidance of the State Corporation Commission.

 

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