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When your house is smarter than you are

February 2018

In the smart house you won’t have to worry about turning off the lights or adjusting the heating. Innovations do that for you. Cost reduction is your benefit.

Answer truthfully: do you disconnect your television and other electrical devices every evening before you go to sleep? Or do you leave all the devices on stand-by? When it comes to reducing pollution and achieving the international climate goal, the rise of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy is grabbing a lot of headlines. ‘But in the short term, much more progress can be made by using the available energy more efficiently than by switching to cleaner sources’, says Luciano Diana, fund manager of the Global Environmental Opportunities strategy.

What a waste

In Europe, households represent a quarter of the total energy consumption1. A significant part of that energy use is wasted the moment we fall asleep in front of the television, switch on the vacuum cleaner before we move the furniture aside or forget to lower the thermostat when we leave the house. ‘Changing our daily patterns is often easier said than done’, explains Diana. ‘Yet it is only a matter of time before many households start to use energy more efficiently. This shift is not driven by a change in mentality, but by technological progress.’

The building of the future

Large real estate companies are at the forefront of this movement, explains Diana. ‘For these companies, a great way to improve the bottom line is to reduce energy costs. There are also additional advantages to developing and exploiting cleaner and more energy efficient buildings. Figures from the World Green Buildings Council2 show that the rental income is higher as a building becomes more sustainable. The shift to houses and buildings that use energy more efficiently is not only driven by financial returns, but by new regulations and environmental awareness. The shift to more energy efficient buildings is gaining more momentum.’

Saving money and saving the environment

A lot of features that are standard in clean buildings will also be incorporated in the house of the future. A good example is the rise of LED lighting. These lamps use up to 80% less energy than traditional lightbulbs3. The American Departement of Energy predicts that the total savings of the shift to LEDs as the predominant source of lighting might add up to cumulative energy savings of nearly $630 billion for the period 2015 to 20354. The actual savings might run even higher, thanks to the increased availability of sensors that monitor movement in the room and automatically turn the lights on and off. More homes are equipped with smart thermostats and in many households the floor is already being cleaned by a robot vacuum cleaner. Diana: ‘These are positive developments. Not only for the environment, but from a practical point of view for anyone who sometimes forgets to turn the thermostat down a little or turn off their lights.’