Smart home technology is a trend that’s been developing for decades and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. While many view smart home technology as a recent innovation, it’s just the latest development in a long list of home-based breakthroughs. Applications such as dishwashers and microwaves provided increased automation, while the emergence of the internet introduced brand new interconnected functionality.
Smart Home Technology is Expanding
Adoption of smart thermostats and other connected devices are having a big impact on how residential electricity is consumed and what customer & utility relationships look like in the future. According to energystar.gov, “If everyone used an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat, savings would grow to 56 trillion BTUs of energy and $740 million dollars per year, offsetting 13 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions.”
In the most recent Energy Pulse study,
- 11% of Americans said they own a smart thermostat “that learns your temperature preferences and knows when you’re not home, adjusting settings to save energy.”
- Another 32% said they’re likely to own one within the next year.
- Six percent said they own a connected home system that allows them to control their thermostat, lighting, and/or appliances with a phone app.
- And 31% said they plan to own such a system within the next year.
Whether renting or owning a home, smart home technology offers financial savings as well as the ease of knowing your home will always be within a temperature you’re comfortable with.
The Desirability of Smart Home Technology
It seems to be less about the energy and money savings and more about the convenience. While many smart thermostats have been sold à la carte, it’s becoming more popular to see them sold as part of a package. BI Intelligence estimates that Comcast’s XFINITY home service has 1.79 million subscribers, all paying $40 per month for home security and home automation services, including a smart thermostat (Nest or Zen), home security monitoring equipment, plus a tablet and a mobile app to conveniently control the connected systems. Comcast recently rolled out the new xFi Advanced gateway router to manage the control of additional smart home technologies. Now, customers can potentially add other applications to their smart home hub, like off-the-shelf lighting control packages, for example.
Some other major services include Cox Homelife, CenturyLink Smart Home, AT&T Digital Life, Time Warner Intelligent Home, and Verizon Home Monitoring & Control. Smart speakers are also becoming widely popular, almost as much as the specific desire for smart thermostats. A January study by Edison Research and NPR reports that 16% of U.S. households have a smart speaker, with the vast majority (69%) owning the Amazon Echo Plus, which allows for plug-and-play functionality with many smart light, lock, and wall plug manufacturers’ products. Buyers also get the popular functionality of cloud-based voice control via Alexa.
Other smart speakers & connected home options are available from major brands like Google Home (estimated to own 25% of the U.S. smart speaker market) and Apple HomePod.
The Generational Demand for Smart Home Technology
Millennials and Generation X are the leading demographics purchasing smart home technologies, with millennials being significantly more likely to utilize a smart thermostat or home energy monitoring device. Generation X is the age group most likely to purchase a “connected home system that lets them control their thermostat, lighting and/or appliances from their phone.” And with more millennials purchasing their homes and replacing old appliances, they will have an even bigger impact in the years to come. Shelton’s Eco Pulse 2015 study asked near-term homebuyers (primarily millennials) to choose the features they expect their next home to have.
Among the top responses were the following:
- A smart thermostat that learns preferences and knows when you’re home and automatically adjusts (36%)
- Smart (connected to a mobile app) appliances (32%)
- A home automation platform with an app for controlling the smart thermostat, lighting, blinds, and security system from a phone (24%)
How Energy Consumption is Involved
Smart home technology offers a homeowner more control over day-to-day energy use. Some of the most popular devices used include:
- Smart thermostats that automatically adjust a home’s climate according to the time of day, regional electrical usage, outdoor weather conditions, and many other factors.
- Intelligent ovens that use next-generation thermal engineering and advanced automation to reduce both the overall energy consumption and the amount of time it takes to prepare food.
- Smart lighting that instantly turns on when someone enters the room and turns off when they exit. These systems usually feature scheduling and automation for even greater efficiency.
- Water-saving showerheads that also track the total amount of water used and other important metrics that help you reduce your bills further.
These devices also transfer to business use.
Solar panels and clean energy are considered the most common features in smart and sustainable homes. While they’re more popular in certain regions, they offer a solution for homeowners and businesses alike.