April 20, 2024

Smart Living Solutions Can Help Cope With Climate Change

The world is in the grip of a perfect storm, with people facing an inflection point of long-term and short-term crises. The impact of the climate crisis is affecting people every day now, with higher temperatures seen around the world and extreme weather events becoming more common.

At the same time, the fragility of the global energy supply chain has been sharply highlighted following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, leading to a sharp rise in energy bills affecting millions.

These dual energy and climate crises are creating multiple headaches for governments, businesses and people around the world.

Today, it is abundantly clear that long-term ambitions for a greener future and necessary solutions for energy security are closely linked to the decisions we take now.

Facing this challenge is not easy. In the past year or so, many households have taken drastic measures in the face of rising energy prices – from wearing an extra sweater to turning off the thermostat – to cut costs and make it through the colder months.

However, these solutions are not sustainable. And in the long term, they will not mitigate the effects of climate change or tackle the root causes of inflation.

The solution, according to many, is a transition based on digitization and mass electrification of buildings. The idea is that the two could be combined to help us avoid further crises and expand access to secure, cheaper and cleaner sources of power. This depends on electricity being a carrier of renewable energy, and digitization releases a huge potential to visualize energy use and thus eliminate energy waste.

Sometimes, it’s a task that feels overwhelming, but there is hope. That’s because as with many problems, the solutions often start at home.

Today, a large number of residential buildings are packed with a range of technology, with Deloitte stating that, on average, US households home with 22 connected devices last year.

This accumulation of gadgets is one thing – it’s fun to get a speaker to play songs using a voice command – but their game-changing quality lies in something vital to the future of the planet: energy management.

With the US government admitting that many homes use more energy than they need waste and inefficienciesthe potential for change is enormous.

However, to increase efficiency and make savings, households need to be aware of how much energy they are using so that informed decisions can be made about how to act.

Today, this can be achieved using digital technologies that are smart and easy to use but do not cost the earth.

For Florent Berard, vice president of strategy at Schneider Electric’s Home & Distribution Division, it’s an opportunity that must be seized with both hands.

The technology to create sustainable, energy efficient and resilient homes exists today in the form of digital software and renewables, but we need to raise awareness about it. Florent Berard, Schneider Electric

The stakes couldn’t be higher, Berard said, because the world is at an “inflection point.”

“If we don’t act now, and if we don’t act seriously,” he said, “we’re going to have a big problem in the future and we may not be able to leave a planet we grew up on. the next generation.” To mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis, Berard said it is important to look at how we drive the right behavior.

“We are in a situation where we have to support people who are facing the energy crisis by empowering them to control their energy use through energy measurement and control, resulting in lower bills,” he said. .

Big ambitions, Intelligent systems

This urgency is only reinforced when one considers that our homes already have a significant environmental footprint.

In the US, for example, residential energy use is the same around 20% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In the EU, the the buildings sector it contributes 35% of greenhouse gas emissions.

With net zero goals emerging – the US, like many countries, is trying to achieve that goal 2050 — it will be essential to reduce emissions in the coming years.

It’s no surprise, then, that companies are putting smart sustainability at the heart of Home Energy Management Solutions, or HEMS.

With a heritage of over 100 years of electrical panel engineering, its intelligent electrical panel is at the heart of Schneider Electric’s HEMS offering. An all-in-one panel that monitors energy use safely, quickly and easily.

Viewed on a smartphone, the smart dashboard provides valuable insights into a home’s real-time energy consumption.

For example, it could highlight devices — such as an old refrigerator or laptop on standby — that are energy-intensive or not functioning.

Modular, HEMS allow users to pick and choose what to install to meet their needs, whether that’s reducing utility bills or charging their electric car with solar power.

Once installed, the easy-to-use kit gives people the power to decide which devices use power and when.

Since the greenest energy is the energy we don’t consume often, the ability of HEMS to manage usage is critical, both for our wallet and the planet.

They can, for example, show when tariffs for charging an electric vehicle are cheapest, or turn down the heating in unoccupied rooms, making every penny count.

“We firmly believe that energy efficiency is achieved through a more electric and digital world — we call this Electricity 4.0,” said Berard, adding that electrification represents “the best decarbonization vector.”

Prosumers on the rise

This digital revolution is complemented by the small but growing number of people adding technology like solar panels and battery storage systems to their properties.

These “consumers” — consumers who also produce their own electricity — can help create virtuous circles where electrification technologies are driven by renewable energy, providing security of supply and cheaper bills in the process.

With the climate crisis and energy security two of today’s biggest challenges, this desire for “home energy” looks set to intensify in developed economies such as the UK, where over 50,000 solar installations taking place in the first quarter of 2023 only.

The main priority: ease of use

Whether you’re a tech geek, or a homeowner adding a digitized device or two to your home, you’re often confused about how to monitor everything.

It is, therefore, very important that it is easy to access and use, according to Berard. “What we build has to be super easy to use,” he said, adding that it was critical to have one app to manage everything—a key element of energy management solutions.

The solution we are building is agnostic. Regardless of the age of your property, whether you live in an apartment or a house, we have something to offer you. Florent Berard, Schneider Electric

“If you have to deal between three, four, five apps, you do not know what to do, and you are lost, and then you lose faith in the solution.”

Old and new

From the outside, the houses of the future will not look the same — the aesthetics and layout of a centuries-old terraced house is, after all, very different from a high-rise apartment in a valley.

What will connect new buildings to older buildings is the technology that underpins them. The fact that home energy management systems can function in a residence whether it was built 200 years ago or today is of particular importance, since it is very much needed. 80% of the buildings which will be in use in 2050 already built.

This means that a net-zero built environment must be a marriage between the past and the present, combining sustainable design and sensitive retrofitting with smart digital solutions.

It is understandable that individuals feel overwhelmed in the face of the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis, as if these are problems that only governments and corporations can solve.

Thankfully, this is not the case.

The rapid development of technology and changing attitudes mean that the path to a sustainable, energy efficient and renewable future is not as precarious as it might seem. We, as individuals, have all the tools — we just have to use them.

Read more about Home Energy Management Solutions by Schneider Electric.

This article was created by Insider Studios by Schneider Electric.

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