Earth Day is upon us!
Earth Day this Friday, April 22nd. For example, I wanted to take a break from my usual IT service management / knowledge management cover to discuss my own journey to reduce my carbon footprint using smart technology:
I have lived in California for over 20 years, and each month I receive a report from PG&E on my energy expenditure. For years I have told myself that the bill does not compare Apple with Apple. Many of my neighbors have solar panels on their roofs. I thought my use was so much because I lived in a few houses on my street where there was no alternative source of energy. In my best months, my energy consumption was easily 25 to 30% higher than in similar homes, and in my worst months – well it was embarrassing.
During the epidemic, I began to get obsessed with my numbers. Every month when the bill comes, I increasingly focus on how I can bring my costs down to my neighbors. I have gradually tried new ideas and new devices to reduce my carbon footprint. From all my changes and trying to make a difference, two options have given me the best results
Electricity before the test
At my maximum, I used 71% more electricity than the house (black line) in my area (blue line) and more than the same. Efficient Home (green line).
Natural gas before testing
A bright spot, I was taking 22% more gas than that Efficient Similar house but Less Than similar houses in my area.
The first step – reduce the heat and cooling energy
It’s important to note that I don’t live where I freeze in the winter, so I don’t have to worry about frozen pipes. It gives me tremendous flexibility in how I heat my home. During the winter months, I bundle up my thermostat to 64 degrees. Since my thermostat was typically set at 68 degrees, the slight adjustment of temperature did little to reduce my energy bill. So instead, I turned off the heat and used a space heater in my office during the day and then turned on the heat in the afternoon for the family. The results were great, I was using 49% less gas than similar homes in my area.
In the summer I bought an outdoor smart thermostat. Using a scripting app, I’ve been able to create a script that notifies me when the outside temperature drops below 76 degrees. Instead of running the air conditioner at night, I used the fan to bring in the cool evening air. Before the temperature rose in the morning, I would close the house again. At the same time, I turned on my thermostat to 79 degrees so that the air conditioner would turn on for the last afternoon for a few hours when it was normally hot.
Natural gas after testing
Now I’m using 46% less gas than that Efficient Similar houses in my area. This was a significant change and I was using far less natural gas than other families.
Step 2 – Turn off unnecessary devices
Under my hot and cold controls, I turned to the devices around the house that sit there and sip in the current even though they are not being used. I bought a smart power strip for each room and plugged in as many devices as possible. Each socket had its own power switch – thus allowing me to control what was on or off in each cell from a single device. The next step was to link them to a central control device and create a routine. Every evening I call my Alexa device “to end my day” and all the trickle feed devices in the house are turned off by an order. These include computers, TVs, cable boxes, applets, DVDs, printers, shredders, gaming devices, coffee pots, toasters, lamps, lights and even treadmills. And then in the morning, I tell Alexa to “start my day”, just to get to my office and close the rest of the house completely.
If anyone wants to use a device, they must turn it on in the power strip or ask Alexa to turn it on (try to remember the names of the 100 devices you have in your house, now this is a good memory trick). What I found most interesting about this part of my experiment is that I have devices that are branded as energy-efficient devices, yet my energy consumption was most affected by turning off these trickle devices or commonly called Wal-Warts. Most of the devices are not used all day but the pending electricity consumption has definitely contributed to a large part of my family’s energy waste.
I’ve made sure to upgrade my large appliances, including washing machines and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators, to energy-efficient devices. Also, I run the devices on their minimal cycles or minimum setting and start my laundry as soon as possible and run the dishwasher at night – thus saving us the experience of energy crisis here in California from 4-9 pm when people return home from work. I even turned off the power to open my garage door. It can be a bit of a hassle to get in every time I want to open it – but sometimes I want to open the garage door for the opportunity not to use the balanced 24 × 7 electricity with this hassle.
Power after the test
I’m closing the gap. I am now with a similar house in my area but still have a long way to go because I am 59% more than the same Efficient Houses
With these smart devices, IoT power strips and apps that let you create routines that focus on reducing costs, consumers can make a real difference in their carbon footprint. I spent about $ 600 on various technology solutions around my home and significantly reduced my energy costs – both natural gas and electricity.
As smart devices become more innovative – consumers will gain more control over their surroundings and become more aware of their impact on the world. Today, new systems allow homeowners to monitor their electrical devices in a fuse box. With a small advance investment and data and analysis to learn what needs to change, individuals can make a real difference in how they use our natural and renewable energy sources. In addition, we need to focus on how to protect the data collected to reduce it Risks associated with IoT.
This test was triggered by the visibility provided by PG&E on my monthly bill. If I hadn’t known that I was using more energy than similar homes in my neighborhood and had become a highly competitive person, I would not have been able to change my environment. The cost savings – at a time when energy prices are rising – are an added benefit.
It’s time for us to rethink how we build homes and how we introduce consumer devices into those homes. If we want to see a real difference in the impact of climate change, it will take much more than reducing the use of natural and renewable energy. This will lead us to redesign our home and office experience to learn how we consume energy and optimize and reduce that cost. We need to turn our home and office spaces into systems of education that measure, analyze and adjust how we use our natural resources.
In April, I will be adding solar panels to Powerwall and replacing all natural gas devices. Reducing my carbon footprint is more of a journey than a destination. For now, it’s awkward to wait until my cable box is powered up and reconnected to my provider, but the energy I save every day is worth the wait. What steps have you taken to reduce your carbon footprint? Share your ideas and maybe we can collaborate and find new solutions to improve our relationship with the world.
Have questions? It’s really nice. Let’s connect and continue the conversation! Please reach out to me via social media or moreRequest a guidance session. Follow my blog and research at Forrester.com.