The High-Tech Home
Homeowners today turn to smart technology to manage energy use and orchestrate their lives
“Our clients want more energy efficiency through lighting and HVAC controls, and they maximize that efficiency by using remote controls when not in the house,” says Lisa Conway, project manager at country club homes, a custom home construction firm in Wilton. Conway says her customers are monitoring and controlling a variety of home elements remotely, including locks, curtains and security cameras.
Touch of A Button
“People are now so comfortable with smart appliances that they want more and more of them,” says Chuck Hilton of charles hilton architects in Greenwich. Hilton’s firm uses Savant Systems, a state-of-the-art, Apple-based master software that controls the majority of systems in the big, new houses his firm is designing. “Homeowners can run the software from their iPhones or iPads,” he says. “They can use their smart technology to control as much or as little of the house as they want.”
Another hot home trend is individualized and controlled lighting, which plays a role in energy efficiency. “Larger homes have significant lighting loads. Owners want to easily manage lights so they’re not left on, or they might want to dim others to realize savings,” says Tom Salveson of residential systems & design in Westport. “These adjustments greatly extend lamp life, too.”
Instead of being hard-wired to separate switches, high-tech lights are run into low-voltage keypads with programmable buttons from which “timed events” can turn lights on at dusk and off at midnight, light driveways and paths, or dim the dining room while highlighting art on the walls. A lighting system may even say, “I’m home” when the door opens and “good night” when the house goes dark.
There’s demand, too, for co-generation systems, which make electricity at home using natural gas and capture waste heat for reuse, says Chuck Hilton. His customers are also asking for geothermal systems, which tap the earth’s natural heat for both heating and cooling. Because of current federal tax credits (they expire in 2016), “the math on geothermal is very favorable right now,” he says, and the long-term savings on energy are significant.