The Blog of Ian Mercer.

How to save energy through lighting control with home automation

Over the years as I've advanced my home automation system I've gained a good picture as to how power is used within a home and number one on the list of energy hogs is home lighting.  Maybe in a small house this would be different but in America houses tend to be large and they have lots of lights and those lights are left on for long periods of time.

In addition to replacing some light bulbs with compact fluorescents and some with LED lights (Cree LED's only since I don't like flickery-blue light) the house also strives to shut down the lights in any area of the home that's not occupied.  It aggressively shuts down lights in rooms that have had no motion in them for a while and if it detects someone leaving it looks for more opportunities to shut off lights sooner.

Another unexpected saving that you can make with home automation is to run your incandescent lights at less than 100% brightness.  Since most home automation controlled light switches are dimmable it's easy to set them to come on at 90% or less.  Based on the time of day my house will use different lighting levels - just 20% if you head to the bathroom late at night, 60% early evening while there's still natural light and 90% for 'full-on'.  Not only does this save energy but it prolongs the life of the light bulbs themselves dramatically.  Couple with running at less than 100%, the soft-start that most smart light switches offer provides less thermal shock on the filament and it runs cooler.  And since it takes energy to make light bulbs, and it's tiresome to go around changing them all the time, this is one saving that pays multiple dividends.

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I've been working on home automation for over 15 years and I'm close to achieving my goal which is a house that understands where everyone is at all times, can predict where you are going next and can control lighting, heating and other systems without you having to do or say anything. That's a true "smart home".

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Home power meters revisited

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Home Automation Calendar Integration

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