I want to change my house over to a “Smart house”, or is that “Smarter”? I am spurred on by my employers “Smarter Planet” initiative. If indeed we are running short of most of the resources that we use to take for granted then I believe it is incumbent on each of us to make some difference in the situation. For my home there are 2 major items to consider, Electricity & Water
First and foremost my home needs to be energy efficient, it should get maximum benefit out of the energy it consumes, and where possible, use alternative, on site, sources.
A list of the things I am thinking of are;-
- Fully Insulated – My place of residence has a climate from 0 C in the depths of winter to 45 C in the hottest of summer – good quality insulation is mandatory
- Double glazing of windows – a lot of heat comes and goes via the windows yet this is still not part of the building standards, I have listed it separately as it will be an exercise on its own.
- Solar for heating – both hot water & the Pool – as much “free” energy, once the installation is paid for that is, as possible. Western Sydney’s climate is ideal for Solar heating.
- Skylights – I have a number of places that do not get good quality natural light (my home office for one), I should be able to reduce my lighting bill somewhat if I can introduce a bit more natural light into some of the dark corners of the home.
- Smart Grid – I would have to wait till the electricity provider, locally, start down this path before I can make any progress on this item.
- Power monitoring – I think this is the real key to it all, knowing what energy is being used by which devices can assist in doing the cost/benefit of replacing energy inefficient devices. But it does go a bit further, only by monitoring what appliances & systems are using electricity at any time can you have the information needed to make good educated decisions (obliviously!), and then when smart grid/bidding systems appear you can be far more precise in your demands on the grid or on site generation systems. I read this article on building a home power monitoring system, and I like the concept.
Some other things to consider
- Solar Electricity panels on the roof – the Australian Government is giving rebates on these – a 1 kW panel would cost about 10.5-12k, with an 8k rebate leaves about 2-3k of net cost, and at 12cents per KWH gives about a 10% rate of return
- Blockout Shutters – designed to reduce down to almost zero the radiant heat via windows, may be an alternative to the double glazed windows.
- Wind generator – it would be interesting to know if I get sufficient wind, on average, to get some value out of one of these devices. I remember Dr Max Whisson had what looked like a great invention – part of which is a windmill that turns well in the lightest breeze
Oddly enough I am less understanding of plumbing that I am of electricity – probably has something to do with my training as an Electrical Engineer.
Capturing and re-using as much as possible, In particular
- Grey water recycling – taking the water from, say, washing & showering and reusing it. I never ever water my garden, so I may have far more than I actually need – some temporary storage prior to reuse would need to be built into the system. I could even use the excess for augmented cooling in summer, depending on the quality.
- A water tank – my parents use to have a farm and I am very well aware of the do’s & don’t's of tank water so getting that as a partial replacement of what I take from Sydney Water should be easily doable (subject to building regulations I presume).
As I progress through this what appears to be a multi-year project, dear reader I will update what I have found and what works and does not work, for me, being an IT guy I have a couple of ideas that may be able to help to really tune down the consumption and tune up the “efficiency” of my place of residence.
First things first – I think I will need to do a bit of analysis on my usage of Electricity & Water and see what my current consumption profile really looks like, so it’s off to the electricity supply company to see if they can assist – something a bit more granular than every 3 month’s I think is needed.
Thanks for reading.