The benefits of smart home automation

Smart home technology use is growing in Australia, with almost 30% of homes predicted to be fully connected by 2022. Here’s why.

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8 min read
The term ‘smart home’ has been around for a while – but what does it really mean?

In a nutshell, it’s when your home and the appliances and devices inside it are connected to the internet and each other.

From security cameras to heating systems, microwaves to washing machines, fridges to lights, they’re all linked to apps on your phone and to voice assistants – enabling you to control them wherever you are. They’re connected to the home too, meaning they respond to what’s going on around them.

While some smart home products could be seen as a little gimmicky (a ‘smart’ toaster that basically just browns bread, for example), an increasing number of people are seeing the benefits of being connected. And decreased energy consumption is one of the big ones.

Australia’s love affair with connectivity

Australia’s love affair with smart home connectivity continues to grow. In 2018, almost 20% of homes across the country were ‘smart’.

The market, worth $231m in 2015, is set to break through $5bn in 2019. We currently average 17 connected devices per household – and this is likely to increase to 37 devices by 2022.

Smart home tech for comfort and security

For many, additional home comfort – and a few extra fun gadgets – is what smart home technology is all about.

As well as automating and controlling lighting and heating from wherever you are, you can control blinds and curtains, your vacuum cleaner and even your coffee machine – so you can come home to a clean, cosy house, and wake up to a fresh brew.

Given that around 40% of a home’s energy usage comes from heating and cooling devices, there’s potential to reduce your energy usage by as much as 23% per year.

Another immediate benefit of making your home smart is the added security. You can install doorbell cameras that stream to your phone, security alarms that feed into an app, remote-controlled door locks, plus motion sensors, fingerprint scanners and more.

Smart home energy efficiency

Smart home technology allows you to monitor your power consumption and identify which devices are draining power. There’s also a whole host of products that can help reduce energy use. Smart plugs, for example, monitor the amount of energy individual devices are using, and you can shut them down via your phone – or via your voice-activated personal assistant, such as Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant.

Some smart charging cables stop charging the device when the battery reaches 100% – not as charging cables do now, pulling energy even when they’re not connected.

Lights can be turned on and off from your phone, or can automatically turn off when you’re not in the room.

Heating and cooling systems can activate automatically based on temperature, or be controlled remotely so you can turn them on or off while you’re away from home.

Given that around 40% of a home’s energy usage comes from heating and cooling devices, using smart devices offers the potential to reduce your energy usage significantly – by as much as 23% per year.

Many manufacturers offer smart whitegoods, such as washing machines, dryers, fridges, freezers, cookers, microwaves and dishwashers, that can be connected so you can control them remotely, even if you’re not at home.

Of course, appliances with added smart features can use incrementally more energy to run day-to-day, which needs to be weighed against the energy they save by being smart.

Smart home laundry

One of the least visited rooms in the home, but one that uses a lot of energy, is the laundry. It’s also a great example of how modern equipment can help reduce energy consumption.

For dryers, look for a high energy efficiency rating, and select a model with a load sensor on – this will prevent it from using a full load’s energy on a half load.

For washing machines, front loaders use significantly less energy than top loaders. And choose your water inlet carefully – cold washing is the most energy efficient choice but, if you do need to do a hot wash now and then, it may be more efficient to select a machine with only a cold inlet and let the machine heat the water rather than your hot water service. Once again, look for the star ratings for water and energy efficiency to help you make the best purchase for your home long-term.

If you go for a smart model you can start your load remotely to time your final spin cycle to perfection, finishing up as you arrive home for hanging on the line.

Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant

AGL partners with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant to help customers manage their energy accounts simply by using their voice. It’s our first step in developing a connected home solution. Find out more about how voice assistants can help make managing your AGL account easier.

Find out more