We’re all looking for ways to save money, reduce our footprint and make our homes more comfortable, and if there was one way to accomplish all of these things, most of us would jump at the opportunity. Unfortunately, short of moving into a brand-new, expensive Net-Zero home, there is no one magic bullet that will put you on the path to energy efficiency.
Not to worry – there are plenty of new products and technologies in the pipeline for this year that will help you retrofit your existing home with the latest and greatest in energy efficiency. The number of energy-saving and home energy management products has grown tremendously over the last few years, likely in response to the increasing desire on the part of consumers to live greener and pay less on their utility bills.
Here are three home energy efficiency trends that, even though they’ve been a long time coming, will gain more traction this year and start making a tangible impact on our homes, lifestyles and our wallets.
Consumers will have greater insight into their energy usage and bills
Savvy consumers are always looking for ways to cut down on their spending, and this year, they can expect to get some help from an unlikely place: Their utilities.
According to VentureBeat, many utilities throughout the country are planning on rolling out mobile apps that will allow ratepayers to log in and gather critical data about their energy usage and expected bill for each month. Some energy providers will go even further and use the data they’ve gathered to give consumers personalized tips for lowering their energy bills.
In addition, smart meters – Internet-connected meters that can communicate with the utility in real-time to offer up to the minute data on pricing – will become commonplace in many regions throughout the U.S. This will tie in with smart products like the Nest thermostat, which can interact with the meter and adjust itself based on what it learns about prices from the meter reading.
Other smart appliances will start to come equipped with the same functionality. This will help save consumers money because the appliances and devices will know when power is cheapest, and schedule themselves to run only when it will put more money back in your pocket
“Don’t go looking for specific gadgets here – it’s all about the bundling.”
The home energy management market will finally take off
The home energy management market, which involves products like smart thermostats, smart appliances and a central module with which you can control them, appears slated to take off after years of a lukewarm reception from consumers. But don’t go looking for specific gadgets here – it’s all about the bundling.
According to Utility Dive, the HEM market suffered because consumers didn’t want to have to do the work of buying every device and upgrade separately and figuring out how to make them all work together seamlessly. But manufacturers and retailers have taken note and are changing the way these gadgets are packaged accordingly.
Rather than buying HEM-related devices individually, consumers will be able to buy them bundled in with other products, like home entertainment centers and security systems. By integrating these new devices in with more familiar ones, and by making everything easily accessed and automated through one control module, homeowners will be much more enthusiastic about buying and using them.
Solar continues to see explosive growth
You knew we couldn’t leave this one out: Rooftop solar will carry last year’s momentum into this one. RenewEconomy reported that in a recent presentation, the Solar Energy Industry Association announced that it was projecting the total accumulated solar capacity (utility, commercial and residential) in the U.S. to reach a total of 28 GW by the end of the year.
While utility-scale solar is expected to lead the way, the SEIA projected residential solar capacity to surge ahead of commercial installations.
It makes sense that homeowners want solar so badly, given how much energy prices rose this winter. And as the costs of solar power for the home continue to drop, more homeowners will see that it’s worth making the investment to protect themselves from unpredictable energy costs.