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How to Conserve Energy with a Smart Home Automation System in Singapore

From 1 Jan to 31 March 2018, electrical tariffs in Singapore increased 6.3% compared against previous quarter and are expected to increase a further 23 cents per KWH this month. The rising cost of living will thus be at the back of any Singaporean’s mind. So how do we tighten our budget while maintaining our current comfortable lifestyle?

One way is through the smart home. Or in other words, automation.

Automation is defined as the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

Here are some ways in which smart home automation can help you to conserve energy and save money.

1. Temperature regulation

Anything that goes against nature requires more energy. In every part of the world, temperature regulation is the main contributor to overall electrical consumption. In Singapore, our constant battle with high temperatures and humidity with air conditioning has raked up expensive electrical bills.

To give you a rough guide of how much electricity an air conditioner consumes, here is a list of items we measured using the HS110 TP Link Smart Plug.

From the graph, the turbo floor fan operates at 84W. This in contrast with an air conditioner, which uses 1920W—almost 23 times more electrical consumption!

To save energy, you could turn off the air conditioning and switch to a fan at night when the temperature drops. But that would mean interrupting your sleep. Alternatively, you could use the timer function on your appliances to turn on and off your appliances automatically, but the timer functions aren’t intelligent enough to sense the ideal temperatures to switch from air conditioning to fan for you.

The best way is thus to rely on a smart home system to determine the best temperatures in your home. Home-A-Genius’ weather sense module uses data from the National Environmental Agency to adjust your air conditioning or fan automatically based on the outside temperatures.

Case Study:

Charlie purchased a Home-A-Genius’ weather sense module for his new home. He set his threshold temperature to be 26 Deg C. This means that anything above 26 Deg C will be too hot for him to have a good nights sleep. What the smart home system does is to automatically turn off the air conditioning and turn on the fan when the temperature drops to less than 26 Deg C.

With the weather sense module, here is a rough estimate of how much Charlie can potentially save:

Without Smart Home Automation:

With Smart Home Automation:

The above estimation allows Charlie to save approximately 55% of his monthly electric bills. The amount you save ultimately is also dependent on how far the temperature falls below your threshold, and how energy efficient your air conditioner is.

*Please note that the above calculations are estimates based on numbers provided by the sources from our research and measurements from our study.

2. Turning devices off, even those on standby

Standby modes in appliances are advertised as energy saving. But is it really that effective?

We put this to the test by using the HS-110 TP Link smart plug to measure some of our devices during standby mode.

To our surprise, most appliances reduced their electrical consumption significantly (almost to zero) in standby mode. However, the only device that seemed indifferent during active and standby mode was the TV Box.

With a smart home, you can reduce electrical consumption even for appliances that are on standby mode by completely turning off the power supply. This typically works through the use of a smart plug that comes with a setup timer that lets you turn off power supply for a certain period of time. You can trigger the smart plug on again through a smart home app whenever you need to turn on your device.

3. Notifications from your smart home hub

Your smart home hub should be intelligent enough to tell you “Hey! Your air conditioning has been turned on for 15h. Did you forget to switch it off?” or “I have detected zero members in your home, but your television and sound bar are turned on. Should I switch it off?”

These notifications may seem trivial, but a timely reminder can help you save quite a bit of electricity.

Your ideal hub should have the capability to track how long a device has been turned on, and alert you whenever required:

In conclusion, getting a smart home is a great way to maintain optimal energy consumption while still allowing you to enjoy the luxuries in your own home. To better cater to your needs, implement a logic and create notifications and alerts in case of any wastage.

At the start, implementing such a logic into your smart home system may require some effort. However, it will save you a whole lot of time in the long run. This also means automated energy savings in the long run as well.

So you may have a smart home, but it might not help you save energy.

Here are a couple of reasons why that could be the case:

  1. Your smart home logic may not be optimised: Setting up your logic is an iterative process. Iterations are required in order for your logic to be optimised. These are usually done after you have lived with your smart home for a month or so. Feel free to speak to a smart home consultant to see if there are any ways to optimise your smart home logic.
  2. Habits that can’t be kicked: Some homeowners may have their own habit that they can’t kick e.g. sleeping with the light on or too busy to monitor energy consumption faithfully as required. In this case, energy saving can’t be maximised.

Building a smart home is a constant learning journey. With the aim of energy saving within our homes, smart home owners can use various creative ways to tweak their smart home logic to its household optimum.

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