7 Smart Ways to Keep Cool During the Dog Days of SummerMay 22, 2018
Is your house too hot to handle? Is your AC running on overdrive? Supplement your home’s cooling system during these last few months of summer with energy-wise, super-cool smart products. All are easily programmed to operate on their own, so they’ll beat the heat without any manual manipulation required from you. But if you like to stay somewhat hands-on, that’s cool, too, because these products all speak Wi-Fi, which means you can control them from a mobile app on your smartphone. From covering the windows with motorized shades to circulating the air with a motion-triggered ceiling fan, these summertime solutions will make a big difference in your comfort level, and may even help you shave a few bucks off your utility bills.
Room AC Unit
How many times have you thrown off the covers during the night because the room is too warm? If you’re guilty of this summertime anti-swelter tactic, GE Appliances offers an easier way to keep cool—day or night. Harnessing the voice recognition capabilities of Amazon Alexa, the “Geneva” air conditioners, models AEC08LW, AEC10AW, and AEC12AW, listen and respond to your commands, like Alexa, tell Geneva to turn on the air conditioner.” Other useful phrases include “Alexa, ask Geneva to set the fan to high,” “Alexa, tell Geneva to set my air conditioner to energy saver,” and “Alexa tell Geneva to turn the air conditioner to 70.”
Smart LED Light Bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs emit 90% of their energy as heat — only 10% as light. If your house is packed with incandescent bulbs, you may have a tough time managing the heat. LEDs run much cooler than incandescent bulbs and significantly cooler than CFLs. Online retailer EnergyCircle measured the difference and found that a halogen bulb, a type of incandescent bulb, ran at 327 degrees. A Cree LED downlight was measured at 107 degrees and a Philips Par38 CFL worked at 167 degrees.
Automated Window Shades
When sunlight shines through the windows, the temperature of your house can rise as much as 20 degrees, making your AC run harder to keep the house comfortably cool. Window shades that block out the sun can minimize heat gain. Look for shading fabric that has a low openness factor (1-5 percent) for the most effective sun blocking capabilities. You can go a step further by attaching the shades (or ordering a complete kit) to a motorized headrail.
MySmartBlinds offers blinds that can be ordered to fit a window of choice and arrive at your doorstep with automation technology built in and ready to snap into the window frame. From there, it’s a simple matter of downloading the companion app and setting up a schedule for the blinds to follow. A sun tracking feature enables the blinds to adjust differently as the seasons change, and an optional solar panel which applies to the exterior of the blind, can be used to power it to preserve battery life.
If you’re happy with the blinds you already have in your home, MySmartBlinds also makes an automation kit that can be retrofitted onto them. You’ll get the same level of control and automation at a cost of $99.
More than any other device, it’s the thermostat that’s responsible for keeping your house cool and comfortable. Smart thermostats are widely available, and can be configured to adjust according to a variety of different parameters. For example, they can follow a pre-defined schedule, respond to the location of your smartphone by using geofencing technology, react when disarm your home’s security system, and self-regulate based on the temperature outside.
When the humidity level in your house is out of whack (the ideal relative humidity level is between 40 and 50 percent), the air can feel muggy and warmer than it actually is, so look for a smart thermostat that can also control humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
Another nifty features found on Schneider Electric’s Wiser Air Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat is a Comfort Boost button (on the thermostat or Wiser app on your smartphone) that when engaged provides a quick burst of cool air for temporary relief.
Smart Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fan cooling allows you to set your thermostat four degrees higher than you normally do and still feel just as cool. https://energy.gov/energysaver/fans-cooling
For the most convenient ceiling-fan-based cooling, look for smart, Wi-Fi controllable fans like the Haiku line Big A$s Fans. In addition to being able to control and schedule the run times of Haiku fans via smartphone app, you can leave the unit’s integrated sensors in charge. This SenseME technology enables the fan to know when you enter the room or leave it. From there, it will turn on or off automatically. The sensors also keep tabs on the room’s temperature and humidity and can adjust its speed accordingly.
Outdoor misting systems work by pressurizing water and forcing it through small opening in a specially designed mist nozzle to create fine water droplets. As the mist evaporates, it produces a cooling affect up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. A properly installed misting system creates a curtain of mist around open-air sides of your patio or gazebo so that you stay cool as you entertain your friends and family in your outdoor areas.
Smart Power Strip
Certain electronic components and appliances can give off heat when they’re running—and often when they’re off but plugged in. If you’ve ever felt warm in a media room, you can blame it partially on the A/V receiver, projector, and other pieces of A/V equipment. The only way to combat the vampire power that feeds into inactive electronic components is by completely unplugging them. A smart Wi-Fi-enabled power strip lets you “unplug” components remotely via a smartphone app. The WiFi Smart Power Strip Socket with Alexa from Weton even lets you schedule on/off times for connected components and to control each of the outlets individual via Amazon-Alexa-driven voice commands.
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