Smart Homes Need Smart Grids: Conserve Energy, Save Money and Help Power the World

smart grid

The way our homes and businesses communicate with a dedicated power source hasn’t changed much since the early 20th century. Centralized power plants still serve as the primary way that most cities deliver the necessary energy to residents, in a process that heavily favors demand over supply. This system is setup for major consequences as we proceed into the 21st century. Energy requirements are higher than ever, and centralized power is far too susceptible to surging, brown-outs, and nuclear fallout. There’s no doubt that the way energy is delivered, managed and recycled needs to change, and the sooner the better.

What are Smart Grids?

Smart grids are an electrical grid that actively monitors, tracks and redistributes energy throughout a fully interconnected system. It is designed to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity delivery.

A quick example

How it works now: When you turn on your washer to do a load of laundry, a large power plant several miles away immediately sends the required power to your appliance. Since power cannot easily be stored, several smaller power plants remain on ‘stand-by’, ready to send the required power to the larger plant at a moment’s notice. These ‘reserve’ plants require valuable energy and resources to continually operate, and actively emit harmful pollutants into the air.

How smart grids works: You place your laundry in the dryer, but don’t manually turn it on. Instead, your dryer (among other appliances) are communicating with the smart grid, determining what time is best to turn on so that the least amount of energy is consumed. Your smartphone gets a message letting you know your load of laundry should be ready in a half hour.

Everything in its Right Place

Imagine everything in your home is simultaneously talking to each other, to the environment, to the smart grid, and to your mobile devices. Your lights, appliances, electronics, heating and cooling systems, even sprinklers, are all figuring out what kind of day it’s going to be to ensure each one uses the least amount of energy. They know when there will be more solar power to use to charge your hybrid car, or when the breeze outside is the perfect condition to harness for blending your morning cup of coffee.

The Bar is Set, let’s Lower it

Your home communicates with the smart grid via a smart meter. This meter tracks and monitors every aspect of your home’s energy consumption habits and reports that information to your energy provider. But you can view this information too! Using a wide variety of mobile apps or desktop software, you can monitor your home’s energy management system on your smartphone or computer. Most apps let you manually set schedules for lighting, temperature, and major appliances.

Because your home is actively monitoring its energy consumption habits and conserving energy in smarter ways, many city- and state-wide programs have been created that offer consumers rebates or discounts on their monthly bills for using less energy. Visit your city’s website to learn about possible programs that you may qualify for if you already have a monitored alarm system installed in your home, especially if you use Alarm.com interactive services.

Research and Development

The idea of smart grids isn’t entirely new, but given an increasing demand for advanced energy management systems (on the provider’s and the consumer’s end), and the prominence of energy independence as a hot-button issue in the 2012 presidential election, research has steadily been increasing.

Back in April, a leading industry publication featured an article by University of Arizona researchers detailing ways to boost smart grids’ performance.  This Tuesday, Kansas State will officially open a new smart grid laboratory to research and train students on the power behind automated energy management systems. The next day, at the University of Washington will unveil their smart grid demonstration project, the largest of 16 demo sites creating a new Pacific Northwest smart grid.

Help Make our Future Brighter

Smart grids are no longer science fiction. The reality is that we need to wean ourselves off of centralized power to avoid a future of constant brown-outs and fear of a nuclear apocalypse. Technology is evolving, electronics are getting smarter, and homes across the world can start contributing to a future in which energy is no longer only consumed, but recycled throughout the system.

Below are a few websites that were referenced in this article and can help you quickly learn more about what we hope is an even brighter future, powered by everyone.

  • What is a Smart Grid?
  • Smart grid: Revolutionizing our energy future
  • Plug into the Smart Grid
  • Kansas State Powers New Smart Grid Lab
  • University of Washington Smart Grid Project
  • A New Way to Look at Energy and Data Flows

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If you are considering adding a home security system, a security camera or home automation; contact the security experts at Capital Connect Tucson. Capital Connect Tucson can help you with all of your home security needs.  Call (520) 209-2525 today. Request a Quote online or come by the office located at 6400 E Grant Rd #270, Tucson, AZ.

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