Smart homes within reach to assist with utility cost savings

Smart home

With technology constantly evolving and the internet permeating every aspect of our lives, our homes are also connecting by helping us to live more efficient lives and saving us money too.

Smart homes are gaining popularity, especially among the younger generations who have never known life with the internet and many of whom already have smart assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa. The number of smart homes is expected to surpass 300 million by 2023 and the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

What makes your home smart? Simply put, by connecting objects in your home to the internet. You can control them remotely and using the data they produce to optimise your home environment. Using the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) tech means we can connect anything from a toaster to your home security system to the internet.

This technology can make our lives easier in many ways. Adjustable thermostats not only keep the ambient temperature at exactly the right level, but they work smartly to ensure they are not on while you are at work, switching on only when you instruct them on your way home. Our fridges can restock themselves, ordering online and getting home delivery.

One of the anomalies of Covid-19 is how it has boosted the sales of smart appliances. Ovens and hobs which link to online recipes and ensure exact cooking times have become a real hit and remote viewing, via smartphone, of what is inside a fridge can help separated families keep an eye on elderly relatives’ food requirements.

For those planning their next holiday, home security systems can alert you via your phone when there are people in your home or on your property and you can set your lights to come on at different times while you are on holiday to make it look like your home is occupied.

Even our gardens can benefit from new technology which senses the water content of soil and can activate your irrigation system without your intervention.

More than just the neat features of smart appliances, homeowners are realising that new technologies can help them manage costs.

A survey conducted in the US and Canada showed that consumers were more than ready to engage with smart technology including smart thermostats; time-varying rates (demand-side management by smart meters); rooftop solar, and other clean energy and energy-savings technologies. It was the cost saving capability that attracted most participants with 73% saying that saving money was their main motivator for making the switch.

Enjoying the benefits of your smart home starts with ensuring that you can access near real time usage data. Smart prepaid meters play a significant role in automating and greening your home because of their ability to respond to energy usage and to allow for remote control.

The near real-time data from smart prepaid meters mean users can see exactly how their behaviour is affecting consumption. Just this heightened awareness has been shown to result in incremental changes that make a difference. Studies in the UK show that bills are reduced by between five and nine percent which is already a significant improvement when utility costs are rising.

Other benefits of smart prepaid meters include displays in Rands and cents as well as kWh which helps sensitise users to how they are using power. The automated, accurate billing and detailed reports mean less admin, better management and fewer disputes between landlords and tenants. Landlords also benefit from immediate alerts in the event of tampering.  

One of the most exciting benefits of smart meters and smart home appliance is that while just a few years ago it was only the wealthiest who could afford these technologies, today the prepaid meters are reaching price parity with older, dumb terminals and smart appliances are extremely competitive. 

All of this is great news for local consumers looking to enjoy a more responsive home environment and a more efficient future.   

By Michael Franze, GM Citiq Prepaid.