January was a big month for conferences. The Consumer Technology Association’s 2020 CES trade show was among them. Knowing he was there absorbing new technologies set for roll out in 2020 and beyond, it made sense to reach out to Ryan Herd, aka the Smart Guy—author of “Join the Smart Home Revolution” and a leading influencer in the sustainable home space.

“We are now at a place where technology can help us as humans,” said Herd. “LED and solar can (finally get us to) net zero.” With nearly 30 years of experience in the home technology sector, Herd has long used his knowledge of sustainable practices to help his clients reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprints; most recently as CEO/Founder of Caregiver Smart Solutions (https://www.caregiversmartsolutions.com/).

When asked what (5) investments consumers can make when it comes to increasing sustainability within the home, Herd recommended:

  • LED Lighting
  • Smart Lighting
  • Smart Shades & Blinds
  • Smart Thermostats/Controls
  • Phyn Smart Water Flow Sensors

By adopting all five, consumers can reduce their energy consumption rates by up to 15 percent. That translates into savings, too, allowing consumers to pay down their mortgages more quickly or pocket extra cash after investing in time-, energy- and water-saving devices. In 2018, for example, Credit Donkey estimated that the average American paid roughly $200 per month for water and electricity. At $2,400 per year, that could mean up to $360 in annual savings.

LED Lighting

Herd said that replacing incandescent bulbs with LED alternatives has the power to instantly reduce electricity costs associated with lighting by 50 percent. Initial cost would be $50 or so based on the average number of lights used in most households. More on LED lighting can be found at USA.Lighting.Philips.com.

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting options work alongside home automation products to optimize how energy is utilized at home. A large living room might be outfitted with 10 lights total but rely on three of them most of the time. Smart lighting systems guard against wasted electricity by limiting power supply to the remaining seven outlets. Overall cost for a system like this can total $600 but be recovered in a few years’ time. Herd suggested visiting Creston.com to learn about Smart lighting technologies.

Smart Shades & Blinds

Herd noted that shades and blinds help consumers make more efficient use of air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. Smart products in this category automate the process for more efficient operation. In combination with home automation technology, Smart shades and blinds block out sunlight during the summer months and encourage sunlight in the winter. Cost is roughly $500 per window. One popular source for Smart shades and blinds is HunterDouglas.com.

Smart Thermostats/Controls

Thermostats and temperature controls have become increasingly savvy in recent years, said Herd. Smart thermostats reduce energy consumption among HVAC systems by monitoring trends in household usage in real time and then optimizing temperature settings. An initial $250 investment can lower electricity usage by 25 percent or so. Google, Honeywell and others make Smart thermostat and temperature controls which are available online or at local hardware stores.

Phyn Smart Water Flow Sensors

The four prior recommendations focused on reducing electricity use, whereas this last one is focused on reducing water use and the chance for flooding. A break in either a kitchen or a bathroom pipeline can cause hundreds of gallons of water to spill into other areas of the home—resulting in upwards of $10,000 in costly repairs.

Phyn Smart Water Assistant flow sensor and shut-off systems or products like them can eliminate a home’s risk for water damage by detecting leakage and stopping water flow automatically before a major break or flooding occurs. While protecting a home and its possessions, it also reduces the potential for water waste. Visit Phyn.com to learn more.

Of what he learned at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Herd said, “it’s all about Smart tech in the home and the connected home.” Smart appliances and home products connected through automation reduce energy use and improve quality of living. One standout product by Moen, which he said can greatly assist seniors and people with disabilities, is a voice-activated toilet flushing system.

For 29 years, Herd has worked closely with manufacturers in the home automation and innovation sectors, establishing a reputation as a reliable resource for clients nationwide—who he said have become increasingly concerned with sustainability. He suggested that consumers consult trade publications and industry association data when researching the topics covered here.

Herd offered our readers a number of other time-, energy- and water-saving tips:

  • Go tankless. Tankless water heaters pull double duty by simultaneously reducing a home’s water use and electricity consumption.
  • Choose gas over electric. Coal-powered plants continue to be a major supplier of home electricity, though gas is considered more eco-friendly.
  • Opt for HE and Energy Star. High-efficiency and Energy Star-rated appliances are designed to reduce energy and electricity use.
  • Install a Tesla Power Wall or solar panels. Installing a Tesla Power Wall or solar panels can be costly ($20-25K) but can significantly reduce electricity use and carbon footprints.

Have questions? Connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ryanherd/.