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Smart technology

Upgrading your Home to Take Full Advantage of Smart Technology

Smart technology has become an integral part of our lives, whether we were aware of it or not, or are excited about these technological advances. The benefits extend well beyond our smartphones and laptops. The rise of smart technology in the home has revolutionized the way we to live and are able to manage our homes. From smart thermostats to security cameras to net zero renewable energy management, smart technology has made our homes more comfortable, secure, and energy-efficient.

Benefits of having Smart Technology in your home

Smart technology offers many benefits to homeowners. Below are a few of the most significant advantages:

  • Improved energy efficiency: Smart thermostats, for example, can learn your temperature preferences and adjust accordingly to conserve energy. Smart lighting systems can automatically turn off lights when you leave a room, saving energy and reducing your electricity bills.
  • Enhanced home security: Smart home security systems offer an added layer of protection to your home. Smart cameras and doorbells allow you to monitor your home remotely, giving you peace of mind when you’re away from home. If someone’s prowling about your home, the floodlights and video cameras can be activated automatically. You can also receive alerts when someone is at your door, like a courier with an important delivery, allowing you to communicate with them even when you’re not home. You can have your home lock your doors for you every night. Your alarm system can arm itself automatically when the last person leaves, and unlock doors for authorized family members and guests without a key.
  • Automation: Smart appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, can alert you when they need maintenance or when a cycle is complete. Instead of fiddling with several remotes, a single button can turn your entire entertainment system on or off. Lights can automatically dim when you’re watching Netflix or a movie. Your coffee maker can brew your coffee in the morning, and it’s smart enough to know if your forgot to get the machine ready the night before.
  • Increased comfort and convenience: Smart home assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home allow you to control your smart devices with your voice. Lights can be dimmed or turned on or off by a command. Smart locks eliminate the need for keys and make it easy to grant access to visitors.
  • Improved health and wellness: Smart air purifiers can help improve indoor air quality, while smart mattresses can track your sleep patterns and make adjustments to improve your sleep quality. If you like waking up naturally to the sun, your blinds can automatically open at the time you set.
  • Cost savings on utility bills: By using energy-efficient devices and automating your home’s energy usage, you can reduce your energy consumption and save money on your electricity bills. Lights will turn on when you enter a room and off when you exit. Thermostats can reduce the heat when everyone’s tucked under the covers in bed.

Monitor and manage your home by remote

You can control your home’s smart devices from a remote smart phone or tablet. There are various ways to do this, including using the Google Home app, which allows you to control over 50,000 smart home devices, or using a smart home hub.

Apple’s iOS Home app makes it easy to control all your smart home accessories on all your Apple devices. With HomePod or Apple TV set up as the home hub, the new Home app unlocks the full potential of your smart home. You can also control compatible smart home devices like thermostats, lights, locks, and cameras from your Android phone without opening any app.

Integration with a Net Zero power grid connection

Homes that achieve a net zero rating are air-tight and well-insulated, and they can generate enough renewable energy on-site to offset the amount energy the home uses over a one year period. Net zero homes are considered up to 80% more efficient than homes built to code.

BC Hydro’s Net Metering Program was designed for BC homeowners who generate electricity for their own use. Net metering allows you to generate your own renewable energy to become self-sufficient, while offering you the reliability of the power grid to fall back on when you need it. At the time of this writing over 6,000 customers are participating in BC Hydro’s net metering program, most of whom use a solar photovoltaic energy solution.

With net metering, your home’s solar panels convert the sun’s energy into direct current (DC) electricity. Inverters then convert that DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, for home and BC Hydro’s distribution system use. Your home is powered first by the electricity your system produces, and any surplus is sent to the power grid. Your smart meter measures how much of the electricity supplied by BC Hydro you’ve used, and how much surplus energy you’ve sent to the grid. Any excess generation is credited to you on your next hydro bill. If you still have generation credits on your March 1st anniversary date, BC Hydro will pay you for the excess electricity at market price, which would make your home net positive.

Smart Technology in new homes

New homes are the perfect candidates for smart technology integration. Designers and builders are able incorporate smart technology from the ground up, making it an integral part of the home’s design. This integration can make your home more attractive to potential buyers one day and increase its resale value. Some smart home features that can be built into new homes include:

  • smart thermostats, which can save energy and reduce costs,
  • smart door locks and security systems,
  • smart water leak and mould sensors,
  • smart smoke and gas leak detectors,
  • moisture sensors in bathrooms and kitchens, that turn fans on and off as needed,
  • lighting systems, that turn lights on when you enter rooms, dim them when your turn on the television, and switch them off when the last person leaves the room,
  • smart Fresh-r, HRV and ERV ventilation and heat recovery systems for high-performance homes,
  • and energy management systems.

Other smart panel features include resource-optimization systems to manage your electricity and water usage, and an advanced home network to integrate different components of the automated system. Smart panels can work with eco-friendly heating and cooling standards to reduce energy costs and significantly reduce your family’s carbon footprint.

Smart Technology retrofits

Retrofitting an existing home with smart technology is becoming a very popular upgrade during a Net Zero or Passive House retrofit. Retrofits involve installing smart devices and systems in an existing home to enhance its energy efficiency, security, and overall comfort.

Retrofitting can also be done gradually, starting with one room or system at a time. Some smart devices that can be added to an existing home include smart thermostats, lighting systems, security cameras, and smart plugs.

Are there any grants and rebates available for smart technology upgrades?

Yes, there are grants and rebates available in British Columbia for smart technology upgrades that improve your home’s efficiency. The BC Hydro Power Smart program and participating municipalities periodically offer mail-in rebates to homeowners buying ENERGY STAR® and other energy-efficient products.

BC Hydro Power Smart also offers Peak Rewards. By allowing BC Hydro to remotely adjust the operation of the home’s smart devices, to manage the demand on their electrical system, you can earn up to $105 annually for participating. Throughout the year, BC Hydro holds periodic ‘peak time events’. During these events, they’ll remotely adjust your connected smart home devices. These tweaks may include delaying the start of charging your electric vehicle (EV) or lowering the temperature on your smart thermostat by a degree or two.

The biggest rebates are offered to homeowners who complete energy efficiency renovations. Renovations that will make your home more energy efficient can also reduce your energy costs, while increasing the comfort of your home. The BC Hydro Home Renovation Rebate Program, offered in partnership with CleanBC, makes several energy savings rebates available to homeowners in BC. The program is intended for homes heated primarily by electricity, and offsets the cost of upgrading insulation, windows and doors, heat pumps and heat pump water heaters. If your renovation incorporates multiple upgrades, you may even qualify for a bonus rebate.

Many BC municipalities are offering top-up rebates – known as municipal top-ups – to the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program that cover conversion to electric heat pump space heating, electrical service upgrades and electric heat pump water heaters.

BC Hydro also offers rebates and free programs for making smart energy choices, including free upgrades for non-profit housing and Indigenous communities. CleanBC offers least 17 clean energy incentive programs available in British Columbia which offer well over 100 individual energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transportation, and low-income incentives and rebates, with a Rebate Search Tool to help you find program(s) you may qualify for.

The takeaway

Smart technology offers many benefits to homeowners, including improved energy efficiency, enhanced security, increased comfort and convenience, improved health and wellness, and cost savings on utility bills.

Integrating a net zero power home with the power grid, through the BC Hydro ‘net metering’ program will optimize energy usage and reduce reliance on traditional energy sources. Whether you’re building a new home or retrofitting an existing one, incorporating smart technology into your home can make it more comfortable, secure, and energy-efficient

Reid Madiuk

Reid Madiuk's been putting on a toolbelt since he was twelve years old, alongside his father, one of Whistler's first residential builders. As a third-generation Whistler and Squamish builder, Reid brings over 20 years of carpentry expertise to designing and constructing exceptional homes.

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