Digital energy efficiency

digital energy, building, home automation schemes, lightingThe emergence of digital technology opens yet unexplored paths towards enhanced quality of life. Here is an overview of some innovations which could soon make their way to our homes, allowing for increased comfort as well as energy savings.

On-demand heating

The share of income spent by households on heating has been relatively steady since 2006 (study on household energy bills) in spite of the successive sets of regulations imposing improved building insulation. One of the reasons for that is the so-called “house effect” stressed in a study conducted by the French General Sustainable Development Commissioner: as the inhabited surface area tends to grow, new means must be found to cut heating demand in order to reduce energy consumption.

Digital technology and its applications in home automation schemes offer promising perspectives to reach that goal. Specific software enables, among other things, the implementation of tools aimed at optimizing the consumption of the different energy fluxes within a building. So-called “eco-detection”, for instance, interrupts heating and air-conditioning systems as soon as the building is excessively exposed to outside weather changes. The “eco-indicator” provides information on how much spending any heating demand requires, which users take into account in order to adjust their consumption. Finally, the “eco-citizen” aggregates different data to suggest adjustment in temperature according to the recommendations of the ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency.

Adjusted lighting

In 2007, the ADEME said that about 15% of our energy bills was due to lighting (apart from heating and domestic water). Digital tools bring about innovating solutions, such as an automatic shutdown system, a timer and motion sensor / presence detector. Underlying these reflexions is the willingness to adjust consumption without the need for direct human intervention. Another concrete example of this: lighting power in the house could be automatically adjusted according to the intensity of outside, natural light. By signing an agreement in September 2012 pushed forward by the Syndicat de l’éclairage (French lighting industry federation) within the framework of the Grenelle Environnement (a multi-party debate in France on environmental issues), all players in the industry expressed their shared concern over environmental issues and their common willingness to promote and offer affordable equipment.

Optimized home automation interface

Finally, all of these new features can now be managed from a single interface. But not just the centralization of commands makes home automation “2.0” interesting: these parameters can now be remotely modified at any time, thanks to smartphone or tablet applications. With such equipment becoming mainstream and the public growing increasingly accustomed to touch-screen interfaces, remote control via a wide range of ergonomic options has become trouble-free. This innovation will undoubtedly have the greatest impact on the success of home automation equipment, considering that smartphones now outsell personal computers (Canalys study). Preheating your oven a few minutes before getting home is no longer science fiction.

Photo : nuage_de_lait

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