Extracting the most energy savings and cost savings from your smart home products: Smart Lights

By July 28, 2019Tips

As the smart home market has grown in recent years, it’s long been smart light bulbs that have led the way. Because smart light bulbs simply plugged into existing lamps and light sockets like a ‘normal’ light bulb, they were easy to install. And since customers were already accustomed to the ideas of lights that were able to adjust light levels on a dimming switch, the ability to reduce light levels was not a foreign concept. Customers were excited about the ability, though, to tap into the ability to control lights using a mobile app on their phones or via timer or sensor, and the smart home revolution kicked off once major brand began pumping the products out.

However, just because the market started to be flooded with these neat gadgets doesn’t mean that customers were immediately using them in the most intelligent way. That ease of installation that allowed them to be plugged into regular sockets also enabled users to overlook or forget the energy- and cost-saving potential of the smart lights. Still today, many customers are unfortunately not getting the most value out of their smart lights. Given that installing these lights in rooms throughout the home come with a real cost increase over simply regular and efficient light bulbs, this trend represents a lost opportunity.

To ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of missing out on the potential savings from smart lights, particularly if you’ve recently received smart lights as a part of your Smart Home Bundle from Atlantic Energy, keep reading for tips on how to extract the maximum energy savings and cost savings.

Reduce Unnecessarily Lit Rooms

One of the most common sources of energy waste in a typical home is when lights are left on in rooms where the light is not needed. Children or absent-minded adults may forget to turn them off when they leave a room, lights may have been turned on when it was dark outside and then not turned off when sunlight lit the room, or lights may even be left on in an empty house so occupants don’t have to navigate a pitch-black house when they return at night. Turning off energy-consuming devices when it’s not needed is energy conservation 101, but smart lights enable added functionality and convenience to make that happen.

Smart lights can be set on a timer with the accompanying app, ensuring that when the sun rises the lights are turned off. They can also be controlled via an app no matter where you are, so if you leave the house and suspect someone might have forgotten to turn the lights off then you can do so from your phone. Similarly, if you wanted to be greeted by a lit house after a long day out of the house, you can manually turn them on via your phone as you approach or even use one of the many programs that will allow you to geotag your phone and turn lights on when you come within a certain distance. Functionality in this regard can be increased simply by adding light sensors or occupancy sensors to your smart lighting system. With smart lights, there’s no longer any excuse for the lights to be left on when they’re not needed.

Adding Light Dimming Abilities

A common strategy that’s been enacted long before smart lights hit the market is to dim lights when the full light level is not needed. Perhaps you only want a low level of light to allow for watching a movie, for security, or to make you feel that your pets aren’t left in the dark while you’re out of the home. Dimming lights reduces not only the level of light but also the energy being actively consumed.

However, previously dimming the light was only possible when connected to light switches with a dimmer installed. Given the electrical know-how required to install a dimmer on a switch that did not have one, this led to many households not being able to take advantage of the energy and cost savings of light dimming. Smart lights have changed that, though, as most smart lights on the market are built with dimming capabilities in the bulbs themselves. That means that light dimming can now become an energy saving strategy even in homes without dimming switches.

Smart Lights as a Demand Response Asset

The previous tips help smart light owners to save money on their power bills simply by strategizing using less energy, but an increasingly common strategy from utilities is to implement demand response programs. As explained in a previous post, demand response is any sort of strategy by a power provider that encourages or incentives customers to shift their typical energy usage from periods of peak demand to times where it will be easier for the grid to handle so supply can more easily meet demand. A common demand response strategy is for the power company to send price signals to the customers, via text, email, or even automatically through smart meters. The utility may alert customers that the grid is strained at a given moment and they will pay a bonus to any customers who are immediately able to reduce their energy use at that moment. If you have smart lights, you can immediately and conveniently turn the lights off, even if you’re not home at the moment. This partnership between utilities and customers to minimize the peak demand on the grid is a great cost savings opportunity for both parties, and smart lights can be a key part of that strategy.

Don’t Fall Prey to Rebound Effects

A last piece of advice on saving energy and money using smart lights is to not assume they will automatically reduce energy use. In fact, if you plug in smart lights but then don’t utilize their smart functions then you may even risk increasing your energy use. Smart light bulbs consume a small amount of energy to remain in standby mode that allows them to receive instructions from the app on your phone. This amount of energy is typically minimal, but taken over the course of a whole month can add up to a fraction of a kilowatthour. If you aren’t using the smart functions to reduce the wasted energy from lights being left on, taking advantage of dimming, and aren’t engaging in demand response, then that small amount of energy will simply be added to your total energy use. As a smart light owner, be proactive in extracting the most energy and cost savings from your lights.  

If you keep these tips in mind, smart lights can be one of the most cost-effective energy savings installations in your home. Even better, if you’re an Atlantic Energy customer you’ll simply get three smart LEDs and one Bluetooth speaker bulb as a part of your Smart Home Bundle.

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