In the worldwide drive to reduce energy consumption, the electronics integration industry is taking the wheel. Home automation systems, once a convenience reserved for the wealthy, are entering more American homes as a way to reduce energy use, costs, and overall impact on the environment. A survey of the membership of the trade association, Home Theater Specialists of America, showed that a majority are seeing an uptick in requests for systems that reduce energy consumption.

“Everyone knows that electronics integrators have been designing systems that automate lighting, audio, video, and climate control for years,” says David Berman, Director of Training and Public Relations for Home Theater Specialists of America. “But now they’re seeing a shift from systems designed purely for convenience, to systems designed with the goal of saving energy and lowering bills — and it’s working. Reports from HTSA members tell me these systems are making a difference for their energy conscious clients.”

Bob Gullo, President of HTSA member Electronics Design Group, explains: “We’ve been able to save clients in some cases as much as 10 to 20 percent per month after implementing a large-scale automation system. We’ve seen requests for systems that will reduce energy consumption by 30 percent or more.”

Berman highlights things to consider when designing a system that will save energy.

  1. Reduce energy use at any budget. From simple shading installations and incorporation of natural light, to complex systems that automate every electronic component of the home with large-scale scheduling programs, energy savings is possible for a small, moderate, or large investment.
  2. Statistics show dimming control leads to significant savings. Lighting companies such as LUTRON, inventor of the dimmer, have published statistics that show homeowners can attain significant savings through the control and management of lighting via dimmers. Dimming control is a key component of automation systems.
  3. Controlling ambient temperature. The use of programmable shading systems can significantly impact the ambient temperature of the home, helping to greatly reduce utility costs.
  4. Efficient heating and air conditioning. CRESTRON, Control 4, and others are particularly good with HVAC control and programming. This kind of technology can have a profound effect on energy savings.

“There is significant potential for smart home technology to enter the mainstream,” says Berman. “Efficient automation started with the high-end specialist, and now, more people are discovering how affordable this technology can be.”

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