This is a smarter way to save money and energy at home — Quartz

2021-12-14 14:03:45 By : Mr. Michael Lau

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Forget about running around the house like a madman and turn off all the lights. Saving electricity at home will become smarter. At the CES 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, companies such as Schneider Electric, Legrand and Leviton shared their latest environmentally friendly housing solutions. The best part? You do not need to replace all electrical appliances.

Smart refrigerators and thermostats can set you back quite a bit, and worst of all, they can only solve the energy consumption problem of one device at a time. However, these companies suggest that by enhancing your electrical panel, you can track and manage the energy consumption of your entire home.

There are several ways to solve this problem. The most basic method is Schneider Electric's Wiser Energy Smart Home Monitor ($299), which is a wifi-connected device that can be installed in an electrical panel. (Schneider recommends setting up by a licensed electrician.) With two clip-on current sensors—they connect to your main service cable—the monitor can track your energy usage down to a single device, based on power consumption and usage Pattern recognition electronic equipment.

With the third-party Sense app, you can keep an eye on your power usage and set goals and notifications along the way. You can also use voice commands to track your energy usage through Amazon Alexa and Google Home integration. Currently, Schneider's home display is not compatible with Apple's HomeKit, but both companies are members of the Zigbee Alliance, which is creating open standards for smart home devices.

Although Schneider’s smart home monitor can help you track energy usage, it does not allow you to turn the device on and off—that is, unless you use the company’s smart plug. Legrand’s smart energy solution may cost more, but it goes a step further. Legrand aims to replace the components of the old switchboard with its own systems Drivia and Netatmo. The product was launched in Europe this quarter, but the company has not yet announced its listing in the United States.

Drivia with Netatmo includes several different components: contactors (recommended retail price: 100 euros), smart latching relays (70 euros), electric meters (68 euros) and gateway modules (75 euros). Of course, the more you need, the higher the cost. Together, they allow users to track their power consumption and turn the device on or off through Legrand’s Home + Control app, which is available on Android and iOS. Legrand's system also supports all three voice assistants, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.

Neither Schneider Electric nor Legrand’s switchboard solutions are the first on the market. Others, such as Leviton's load center (price range: US$200 to US$1,500) have appeared before, but they also have advantages and disadvantages. Like Drivia, load centers supported by Android and iOS apps allow users to turn off the circuit breakers individually. However, it will not let you reopen them, and the load center does not include voice assistant features. Greg Rhoades, director of residential marketing at Leviton, said the company is working hard to add voice integration "soon." But even without a voice assistant function, Leviton is already available for purchase in the United States, which makes it a pleasant medium between Schneider's smart clip (without on/off function) and Legrand's upcoming voice-enabled electrical panel.

When you consider your home improvement strategy, your electrical panels seem to be the ideal starting point. This is not just a one-time upgrade, but a transformation of the entire energy consumption.

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that Leviton's load center allows the user to close the circuit breaker, but not to open it.

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