You’ve heard the expression “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”? The same applies to energy management: there’s way more than one way to sell it. Because few us remember to do things like set our thermostats or turn off the lights to be more efficient, many electronic manufacturers are building energy saving functions into both housewide systems and individual products. Sell those, and you’re selling energy management in some form or another.
By incorporating energy management into products, manufacturers are making it easier for your clients to be more efficient at home—and without them even trying. You could call it a new age in energy automation. Everything from home control, motorized shading systems, power conditioners and even powerful amplifiers are becoming hidden energy managers. More obvious energy devices like thermostats and smart plugs are being integrated into larger systems.
These products go way beyond the energy-saving features found in TVs and even some video projectors—by actually managing, controlling and sometimes monitoring our energy usage and by shutting off devices when they’re no longer in use. Here are just a few spotted recently at the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo in Indianapolis.
Touchpanels Show Energy Widget
High-end lighting and home control company Vantage’s new Equinox line of LCD touchpanels (also pictured above) provides a cool-looking, user-customizable set-up, but it also makes monitoring and managing your energy use sleek and easy. An Energy Widget allow users to dig down to see energy consumption of the whole home and all devices on the Vantage network—and make adjustments to dim lights or turn off products based on energy usage. The system can also show gas and water monitoring as well. The light-switch-size Equinox 4 without widgets will be available in November, the larger Equinox 7 touchpanel in December and the Equinox 4UX with widgets in March. IPad control of the interface is available as well.
Motorized Honeycomb Shades
Motorized shades defray energy costs by being raised to let in sun in and heat a space in the winter and lowered to keep cooler in the summer and reduce air conditioning needs. Lutron goes one step further with its affordable battery-powered motorized cellular shades that start at $299 each. The honeycombed-shaped shades are effective insulators by creating a layer of air between the fabric membranes. The latest Lutron honeycomb shades also feature cable guides to prevent shades from swaying. The cable guides can be especially useful in French doors, areas of heavy airflow and in skylights. They should be available in January 2013.
Thermostat Doubles as A/V Controller
Apple-based home control company Savant is adding to its energy management capabilities with a thermostat that has a similar look and feel to its lighting control keypads. The thermostats can even control lighting and A/V via a small LCD readout— and contain humidstats for humidity control. One very cool aspect is separate control of set temperatures by sliding and pinching on a touchscreen like an iPad. An eight-zone central processing unit can be connected to thermostats and ganged to provide many zones of control, and can be connected to in-wall sensors to keep a thermostat-free look.