Catch up on smart homes

Editor:

Re: Going Gaga over smart meters (B.C. Views, March 17).

What’s the point of having a smart meter without having an automated system that knows which appliances and systems can be safely turned on and off automatically to ensure that the power consumption of a home is kept to an optimal level, depending on time-of-use rates?

In countries that have long used these rates you pay more at the very time when all average homeowners prepare meals, take showers, watch TV, use the internet etc.

With an automated system one could still prepare meals at the most convenient times. However the system would automatically lower the heating temporarily (not a problem if one has a super-insulated home) and shut off the washer, dryer, dishwasher etc.

Automated home systems aren’t science fiction. They have been used for years in many European homes. Some are quite simple and only monitor and operate appliances and the heating system, while others are more complex: automatically opening and closing shutters depending on the time of the day or climatic conditions, and turning lights on and off according to pre-planned scripts based on the user’s lifestyle.

EDF, the French hydro provider, has various rate plans. One of them divides the year in blue, white and red days, each with its own peak and off-peak rates. Only an automated system can keep track of all that.

The European Community requires that homes will soon have to use a maximum of 50 kw/m2 per year, with net-zero energy and passive homes being the goal not that far away. Already real estate ads in many countries must provide an energy consumption rating and a greenhouse gas rating (sellers must provide a handful of audits and utilities bills).

So EDF and other energy providers have been helping homeowners to audit their homes, find what renovations must be done (better insulation, replacing all windows and doors, installing a more efficient heating system, using alternative energy sources etc.)

The homeowners get help to apply for various grants and low-interest loans given by various levels of government and also to apply for income tax rebates for various building materials, appliances and fixtures. Appliances made outside North American have long been energy misers compared to ours.

Obviously BC Hydro is putting the cart before the proverbial horse.

Jean-Louis Brussac, Coquitlam

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