Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is the biggest contributor to residential energy bills as well as carbon emissions. HVAC accounts for 43% of residential energy consumption in the US and 61% in Canada and the UK. The average US family spends around $2,000/year on home utility bills.
With rising energy costs, stringent building standards and codes such as the California Energy Commission Title 24 Program, and a general awareness of climate change, homeowners are choosing to go green by using a variety of energy saving sensors.
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Energy Saving Sensor Options
Motion sensors - While using compact fluorescence (CFLs) is a great choice, installing motion sensor lighting devices in key locations would add to the energy-saving effect. These devices automatically turn on lights when movement is detected and turn off when the space is empty.
Hi-tech thermostats – These have built-in sensors and can detect the presence or absence of people indoors, and accordingly change the thermostat settings.
University of Virginia’s smart thermostat – Researchers have built inexpensive occupancy sensors into a thermostat to automatically turn off HVAC systems when not required. Although the smart thermostat and related equipment for about 130 million homes in the US will cost $10 billion, the annual national savings these devices can bring about is estimated to be 113.9 billion kWh.
Passive infrared sensors – They measure the level of heat in a room and react to changes in heat patterns
Sensor taps - Hot water leaking at a rate of 1 drip per second causes 1,661 gallons of water to be wasted annually, and wastes up to $35 in electricity or in natural gas. Sensor-activated taps provide the ideal solution. They are activated or deactivated within 0.5 seconds, and do not drip.
Moisture sensors – They help to automatically turn dryers off when clothes are dried, thereby preventing over drying and saving energy.
Why Use Energy Saving Sensors
Energy saving sensors are mostly inexpensive and effective devices that can be installed quickly and easily anywhere. Homeowners have a number of options to choose from. For instance, occupancy sensors come as integrated daylight sensors, wall switch sensors, wall or ceiling-mounted sensors, hybrid or combination sensors, and specialized sensors.
They ensure energy-efficient use of household gadgets such as sprinklers, indoor and outdoor lighting, cameras, and light switches. Many sensors provide security as well by activating alarms, night lights, floodlights, gates, and locks.
Energy-saving sensors can cover wide areas effectively. The utility rebates in a way help pay off the sensors in less than a year. Even without the rebates, the sensors can be paid off in two to three years due to the amount of energy saved in that time.
Various studies reveal that 20-30% of energy can be saved by turning off HVAC systems when residents are not indoors or sleeping, which in turn would result in savings of about $15/month for average-sized homes.
Rapid developments in sensor technology will help take the current energy-saving scenario to a whole new level. With the help of these smart and energy-efficient sensing devices home owners can hope to save much more energy in the coming years.
Sources and Further Reading