Although many consumers claim to crave sustainability, only about 14% of respondents in a 2022 Kantar study reported taking active steps to make their homes more sustainable. A large portion of these respondents, 80%, cite high costs as the reason they don’t opt for more sustainable products. If that’s the case, it’s not unreasonable to assume that most people don’t invest in smart home tech.
However, the U.S. smart home market is massive at $37.02 billion as of 2023. And it’s only projected to go up from there, reaching a predicted $57.28 billion by 2028. There are clearly consumers of smart home technology, and their numbers are only expected to grow.
The key is to find a balance between this advanced, interconnected tech and sustainability. Often, the two are able to overlap. Consider the following ways modern homeowners are incorporating sustainability into their smart home design.
Modern definitions of smart indicate a device’s ability to connect to the internet. However, there are traditionally smart ways to make environmentally friendly upgrades to your home. Some of the most popular eco updates include:
- Smarter insulation that uses enhanced materials and design to provide longer-lasting, better insulation, and reduced energy usage;
- Solar panel installations that harness the power of the sun to decrease energy costs;
- Low-flow water fixtures that reduce water usage;
- Living walls filled with greenery that provide better air quality, cooler surface temperatures, and habitats for local wildlife if outdoors;
- Recycled, sustainable materials for floors, walls, and furniture;
- Weather-sealed windows that keep cold and hot air out, saving energy costs;
- Native plant gardens that use less water and foster the local ecosystem.
There are a variety of ways to get creative with your home upgrades to be more sustainable. Surprisingly, many of those ways can include smart home tech.
Smart Home Tech for Sustainability
Smart Home Energy Management Systems (SHEMS) are supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to help the climate while helping the people. ENERGY STAR-certified devices are household appliances determined to be energy-efficient by the EPA. Now, the SHEMS program promotes ENERGY STAR-certified smart devices, allowing U.S. homes to keep up with interconnected tech trends while saving money and aiding the environment.
The SHEMS program has certain stipulations on the smart home setups that they certify. These criteria are indicative of some of the best ways to upgrade your residence with smart tech while remaining energy efficient and cost-effective. They include:
- Limited standby periods, i.e., the “sleep” modes that cost more energy than turning off your devices;
- Homeowner access to energy usage reports online;
- Smart thermostats;
- LED lightbulbs;
- Automatic plug load control;
- Integration with dynamic pricing schedules from utility companies;
- Daily kilowatt-hour limits when homeowners are away;
- Communication with the S. power grid;
- Tracking by the EPA to offer usage recommendations.
Of course, collaborating with the EPA isn’t the only way that homeowners can implement energy-saving, sustainable, smart home rigs. Many people choose to live off-grid with stand-alone systems that power themselves. Especially in more remote locations, living off of the main power grid is more cost-effective than paying to extend power lines. Further, environmental concerns about the main power grid’s contribution to pollution lead many people to choose stand-alone systems. Living off-grid is one way to cut costs when renovating your home to be energy-efficient and smart.
In any case, homeowners that want to incorporate smart devices will have to be connected to the internet in some capacity. By very definition, these devices communicate through the Internet of Things (IoT). This way, owners can keep tabs on how much energy they’re using — and saving — with the newly implemented devices. Further, they can control certain elements remotely via internet-connected devices like phones and tablets. This helps save money even when they are away from home.
Some more ideas for smart home devices that save energy include:
- Smart skylights and curtains that react to light conditions, saving energy by using natural light for illuminating spaces and regulating temperature;
- Radiant floor heating, which saves 20 to 25% more energy than forced-air heating;
- Smart showers that use voice-control and other sensors to save water and energy;
- Automated lights that turn off at certain times or when not in use;
- Smart thermostats that can be timed or controlled remotely;
- Smart, eco-friendly backyard upgrades like electric lawnmowers and smart irrigation technology.
As you can see, smart tech can be incorporated everywhere in your home. From smart landscaping to remote-controlled lighting, you can save money and enjoy the perks of a home connected to the IoT.
Sustainable Considerations During Renovation
It’s also worthwhile to keep sustainability in mind during the actual home upgrades. Consider your neighbors during renovation, lessening the impact on your community by:
- Communicating plans;
- Following local regulations, like proper waste disposal;
- Planning for adverse weather events;
- Keeping noise pollution levels down with quieter tools and respect for neighbors’ schedules.
It’s entirely possible to make smart home renovations while saving money and protecting the environment. A little planning goes a long way to a sustainable, smart future as a homeowner.