Home energy management systems like enerG’s Home Awareness System can operate anything from the thermostat temperature to your webcam video.
The best thing about saving energy for homeowners?
They can use the extra money to buy more things—for themselves, for their families, for their homes—maybe even to purchase those add-on tech options. Here are a few cool energy savers, plus a couple products that will make a home controller look good and keep a cell signal strong.
Easy Energy Management
We’re going to see a lot of home energy management systems aimed at the home market, and in many cases, the simpler the better. Here’s enerG’s Home Awareness System (shown above) , which operates on wireless Z-Wave technology to allow energy monitoring, thermostat and lighting control, and webcam video. Homeowners can time events to take place and use a GeoFence to program the temps to turn up or down depending on how far away they are from the house. The system also uses Aeon Labs devices to read whole-house or circuit-level energy levels at the electrical panel and plug-in modules to read individual devices around the home.
Four different packages are available, starting with a gateway hub, a thermostat and two smart enerG switches at $429, with additional fees for integrators’ installation and enerG’s monthly service plans that start at $30. The system can be expanded to include lighting control, garage door access, keyless entry and wireless HD viewing. Interaction with the system is achieved via the company’s mobile app for Android or iOS devices, as well as through the enerGhome.com portal.
Savvy builders know that people want to control their homes with mobile devices like iPhones and iPads, so why not offer them in in-wall mounts that are flush and paintable? Wall-Smart provides customize solutions with its in-wall mounts and flush-mount docking stations for iPad 2, 3 and 4, as well as solutions for Crestron, Lutron, Control4 and Savant home control displays. To release a wall-docked iPad, a user just adds pressure to the top of the display, tilts the frame down and unplugs it. iPad wall plates are available through dealers for $680.
Energy Smart Control
One of the coolest control systems out there is from Savant, which works seamlessly with iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices to control audio/video, lighting, thermostats and other systems.
Savant also has a SmartEnergy Monitor that can monitor individual circuits and the whole-house. Now, they are adding wirelessly connected Wi-Fi SmartPlugs that can monitor energy use and control individual devices plus 6-outlet smart surge strips with four managed receptacles and a current sensor for monitoring the energy use of circuits where an outlet is not available.
Savant is also introducing an 8-zone climate control system with attractive single-gang Circa Style thermostats that provide a clear view of current temperature, set-point, system mode, fan mode, system status and setup functions.
One of the neatest home controllers and energy management systems we’ve seen is from Fibaro, which features an easy-to-install and modestly priced $600 Home Center 2 (HC2) controller and soon-to-come WallPlug plug-in modules that light up different colors via LED backlighting, depending on the amount of energy consumed. The two-plug outlet also features two USB jacks for charging portable devices and an energy readout of the power consumed by outlet, or by all outlets and USB connections, which are surge-protected and cut power when devices are done charging.
The system reads the energy consumption of the plugs and can shut off devices via the plugs automatically. You can even set limits for usage, control colors of some LED lights with an RGBW color wheel, and configure white LED lights to flash or display certain colors depending on the alert assigned to it.
Fibaro has a slick oval flood sensor that will alert you of a threatening flood or a rapid temperature rise or drop, and it can be coupled with an electrically controlled solenoid valve to shut off the water supply when needed. Fibaro’s Rich Bira has lights flash in his main house when a flood sensor alert goes off in his vacation home. Voice control is also available through its Siri-like Lili assistant and as many as 232 wireless Z-Wave-based devices can be added to the ecosystem. Dimming modules install quickly in standard switch outlets. A smoke sensor is due.
Building houses in areas of weak cell phone coverage? Wilson Electronics’ cell signal boosters are able to pick up weak cellular signals from a cell tower and transmit them to your cellular device, and then transmit a more powerful signal back to the tower. Blake Seese of Wilson Electronics says cell coverage in a home is considered essential and that some foil radiant-barrier insulation can inhibit weak cell signals as well. Wilson’s new CI 2070 booster ($1,250) can amplify the signal of virtually any 2G, 3G or 4G service, and has self-adjusting properties to reduce the gain of the signal if needed.
The unit is wired with coaxial cable between indoor and outdoor antennas and can be built into the structure in a prewire. An online video details installation, and this week Wilson will offer a free webinar to learn more about installing its systems.