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How to make your home an energy-efficient smart home this summer

As South Africans navigate extremely hot weather conditions in the Western Cape paired with higher-than-average rainfall across the rest of the country due to the La Niña weather phenomenon, their electrical appliances are working harder to provide them with necessary comfort. However, with the electricity tariff hike looming, combined with the pressure being placed on the country to minimise its carbon footprint, locals should consider ways to become more energy efficient.

“The solution is smart home devices,” says Dr Andrew Jaonnou, Business Development Manager: Engineering & Innovation Tech at CBI-electric: low voltage, a local manufacturer and supplier of IoT solutions. “These devices enable you to oversee almost every aspect of your home. Each device is connected to an app on your smartphone so you can manage them whether you’re at home, or far away.”

Joannou adds that thanks to IoT, the app can also be synced to a weather app, enabling users to switch the appropriate appliances on or off or schedule them depending on the weather.

Smart home technology can be used for monitoring, control and automation. Monitoring enables users to keep an eye on their energy usage. When it comes to controlling these devices, users have the ability to switch them on and off remotely. This could be applied to lights, aircon and underfloor heating, for example. Lastly, automation enables users to set timers and schedules to activate and deactivate their devices at specific times and on certain days. This is best suited to irrigation systems and geysers.

With this in mind, he outlines three ways that smart home devices can save South Africans money while improving their energy efficiency:

  1. Respond to temperature changes: On warmer days, people can turn their aircon on even before they get home so that it will be cool when they arrive. The same applies for the switching on of heaters and underfloor heating in cold weather. Air conditioners, heaters and other appliances can also be linked to a timer to minimise electricity usage. This is crucial since there are over 2.6 million electric air conditioners in use in South Africa, with each consuming 3,100 kWh annually on average, or 8.1 TWh in total[i].
  1. Working with wet weather: Home automation can also help homeowners conserve water and electricity by enabling them to turn irrigation systems off should the weather app predict rain. A number of farmers have implemented this technology to help them avoid over-irrigating their crops which not only impacts their water and electricity consumption, but also the success of their crops – all massive costs that need to be considered. While the water costs aren’t as high for homeowners, they should bear in mind that households with gardens use up to 46% of their water for gardening[ii].
  1. Step up security: With La Niña bringing with it more rain and overcast conditions, home automation can be used as a means for switching on lights ahead of one’s arrival home. This helps to add an extra layer of security as you won’t have to return to a dark house.

“I believe that, with smartphone penetration on the rise[iii], coupled with the push for South Africa to reach net zero emissions by 2050, more homeowners should be opting for home automation to counter changes in the country’s – and indeed the world’s- increasingly chaotic weather.” concludes Jaonnou.

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