For the past 40 plus years, automation has become more prevalent in our lives. Initially with simple sensors to turn things on, like an outdoor security light. But then came the concept of home automation; an expensive luxury only for the wealthy at first, but not these days, I’m happy to say.
Smart home technology has made huge leaps forward over the past 10 years, mainly due to the invention of the smart phone – and the apps that make our lives super easy. This has led to the masses becoming more aware of the need to include home tech, whether you’re building a house from scratch or refurbishing or retrofitting an older property.
Lighting, heating, ventilation and shading are all commonly controlled to some degree these days, but what’s next for the industry? To start with, we are seeing big trends towards being greener, with people switching to electric cars, and recycling waste like there’s no tomorrow. So, we can assume our smart homes will play a huge part in this shift too.
Probably the biggest leap forward in our industry is energy management. Many of us might already be generating our own electricity. If we were fortunate enough, we managed to get a decent Feed-in Tariff before it was slashed; earning a few quid from solar panels on sunnier days when demand was low.
These days, feeding back to the national grid will earn you a pittance, so why bother? Instead, we can configure our smart homes to make more efficient use of this surplus power by performing tasks like heating water, charging electric bikes or cars, or starting the dishwasher.
I predict we’ll see some new flexible energy tariffs, where we might be penalised if we exceed a set peak demand, or more importantly, can benefit if we keep under it. This is already happening on the continent, so it’s a logical next step here. Plus, we are very close to maxing out our own UK grid capacity, which could lead to blackouts.
Eventually, we might be forced to ‘peak shave’; limiting the maximum power we are using at a given time. This can be done easily in a smart home, where the tech will monitor peak energy use and can intervene if you’ll exceed this. It might turn off a non-essential device, ie pause heating your hot water, or perhaps the smart fridge might turn off for 10 minutes.
You won’t know about it as it’ll all happen automatically. Technology has changed rapidly over the years and this has impacted how we live in and wire our houses; soon enough, automation will be the norm.
|Andy Moss has been an electrical engineer for 34 years and seen the smart home industry grow first-hand. He is director of Moss Technical, the UK supplier for Niko Home Control.|