October marks a season of change. The leaves start to change color. The days get shorter. Outdoor temperatures begin to cool, and our thermostat temperature begins to rise. October also signals the beginning of Energy Awareness Month, designated by the U.S. Department of Energy as an important time to evaluate our relationship with a much-needed resource – energy.
In many parts of the world, energy costs have been steadily increasing. We’ve put together a few tips to help you improve energy efficiency within your home to not only save you money, but also support a more sustainable future. But first, let’s take a look at why we are experiencing rising energy costs globally.
Generation Costs and Global Forces Send Energy Costs Soaring
Recent news headlines across North America and Europe are dominated by the rising costs of energy and costly energy bills burdening customers. Many factors can influence electricity prices: fuels for electricity generation, power plant costs, extreme weather conditions, and federal and state/provincial regulations. However, electricity generation is the largest component of electricity prices with fuels (e.g., natural gas, petroleum) being a driver of higher costs. The cost of natural gas has soared, exacerbated by global complications like COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine affecting the supply and demand of oil and gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts residential electricity prices to increase 6.1% in 2022 from 2021, largely driven by rising natural gas prices increasing wholesale power prices.
With rising energy costs and cooling temperatures, there are multiple ways to help your home save energy and lower your energy bills.
Energy Efficiency and Curbing Costs
Energy conservation is the simplest way to save energy and money by just cutting back on activities that consume energy (e.g., reducing your heating or cooling, limiting your dishwasher use, etc.). Energy efficiency, on the other hand, uses technology so that you can still run your HVAC and dishwasher but use less energy when doing so while also avoiding and reducing energy waste. Energy efficiency is just as easy – if not easier – as saving energy but ultimately, it’s smarter energy use. By purchasing energy efficient appliances and using them intelligently, homeowners can save on their monthly utility bills as their homes use less energy to heat, cool, and operate.
Residential price of electricity will average 14.8 cents per kilowatthour in 2022, up 7.5% from 2021.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) considers energy efficiency as the “first fuel” of a sustainable energy system. The IEA’s latest Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency estimates that enhancing energy efficiency measures could provide one third of the global emissions reductions needed for reaching net-zero – which means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible – by 2050. Their models also predict that energy efficiency-related initiatives can help lower global household energy bills by at least $650 billion USD per year in 2030.
You may be thinking: What about the upfront costs of purchasing energy-efficient appliances or upgrades to my home? The U.S. and Canadian governments offer residential efficiency programs with incentives and resources to help you take the first steps to an energy efficient home. Examples include cash rebates on ENERGY STAR certified products in the U.S. and grants or interest-free loans through the Canada Greener Homes Initiative.
How ecobee Helps Automate Energy Efficiency For Homes
With our mission to improve everyday life while creating a more sustainable world, ecobee is committed to helping Smart Owners automate energy and cost savings while keeping their homes comfortable. We’ve done so through eco+, our intelligent optimization platform, which includes six features that make our thermostats and your home, more energy efficient.
Pause when Open*
Homeowners can install ecobee SmartSensors at their home’s doors and windows to monitor entry and motion. While these sensors work seamlessly with our Smart Security home monitoring plan, they also work intelligently with our thermostats and your HVAC system. When a SmartSensor detects a door or window is open for more than 5 minutes, it sends a signal to our smart thermostats to automatically pause heating or cooling until the door or window is closed.
Adjust For Humidity
This feature lets our smart thermostats detect fluctuations in indoor humidity and automatically change the temperature in your home to feel like the temperature you’ve set on your thermostat. When humidity is high, this makes the temperature in your home feel warmer. When this happens, our smart thermostats won’t heat the home as much as they normally would need to, saving you more on heating costs.
Your ecobee thermostat allows you to create a schedule of when you’ll be home, away, or asleep and set your thermostat’s temperature to your preferences. However, we understand that life constantly changes, and routines sometimes break. By using our thermostat’s internal occupancy sensor or our SmartSensors for rooms, Schedule Assistant detects whether your new routine matches your set schedule. If the two aren’t matching up, eco+ intelligently generates and recommends a new schedule so you don’t miss out on energy and cost savings.
Smart Home & Away
To ensure Smart Owners aren’t wasting energy or losing out on energy bill savings, Smart Home & Away automatically adjust your thermostat’s temperature when it detects you’ve left or returned home. When Smart Home & Away senses you’ve been away during a scheduled Home period, it will intelligently adjust your thermostat temperature for energy savings.
Time of Use
Many utilities now have a Time of Use electricity rate option, in which the cost of electricity varies based on the time of day you use it. When Smart Owners input their Time of Use rate into the ecobee app, eco+ intelligently pre-heats or pre-cools your home when the electricity rates are less expensive.
Community Energy Savings
When your local grid is experiencing high electricity demand, this can cause potential power outages and grid instability. Many utilities offer demand response programs, in which they incentivize customers through a bill rebate to reduce their energy usage during these peak demand periods. By enrolling in your utility’s demand response program through the ecobee app, eco+ will make slight, automatic temperature adjustments during these peak demand periods and reduce your energy consumption.
Energy is a resource we typically take for granted. It’s so prevalent in our homes and businesses that we often don’t realize how important it is, until we lose power or realize our energy bills have skyrocketed. Energy Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness, re-evaluate our energy usage, and understand where our energy comes from. Saving energy and learning how to use it efficiently is great for the environment, our communities, and our wallets. However, intentionally saving energy is something we can be doing every day in our homes and businesses. Technology, like ecobee’s smart thermostats and optimization software, can help automate energy efficiency and deliver cost savings all year-round.
*This feature requires an ecobee Smart Security free trial or active subscription.
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