For anyone building or remodeling a home, energy efficiency is a key factor. From insulation to location, how you build a home can have a direct impact on how much energy it uses. While a Passive House, one that can remain comfortable through all seasons without employing an active heating or cooling system, may be a lofty goal for many people, there is something relatively simple you can add to your home to help passively control its temperature: smart shades.
Smart, motorized shades can help control the solar gain and heat loss your home experiences naturally throughout the day simply by opening and closing at pre-programmed times. With the addition of smart home technology, the shades can actually learn when they need to open and close based on temperature and sun light, maximizing the energy efficiency of your HVAC system.
Here’s a look at the benefits of smart shades to help you decide whether they are a good fit for your home.
Motorized shades can be opened and closed simply by touching a button, a remote control, or an app on a smartphone. Window coverings are a proven way to reduce solar gain and prevent heat loss, and if they are this easy to open and close, it’s much more likely you’ll remember to do so to benefit you and your environment. Additionally, the ability to set schedules to open and close them at specific times means you may never have to worry about them at all.
2. Energy Savings
Connecting motorized blinds to a smart home hub can help minimize the amount of energy your HVAC system uses by allowing the blinds to react independently to readings from temperature and sunlight sensors also connected to the smart hub. Consequently, the blinds will actually know when to close during the hottest part of the day to reduce HVAC usage or whether to open during a sunny day in the winter to allow the sun to heat a room naturally.
3. Smart Home Integration
Smart thermostats have a trove of data to use to determine whether opening or closing the smart shades will help reduce energy use, such as what time of day it is, what the weather is like outside, and what the temperature is in the home. Using all these data points, the thermostat can sense a room is getting too hot and close the shades instead of turning on the air conditioning or do the reverse when it knows a room is cooler than it should be.
4. Smart Lighting
When paired with smart lighting, smart blinds can help maximize the amount of daylight in your home to cut down on electricity usage. For example, opening the blinds can trigger smart lighting to turn off, and vice versa.
5. Add R-Value
Even without smarts, motorized shades can add a significant insulation value to your windows. The traditional roller and honeycomb blinds offer an R value of 4.3. (A typical double glazed window has an R value of 2.0.) You can also get motorized drapes that will add an insulating layer to your windows.
As any parent will know, the lack of cords with motorized shades is a major safety bonus—you won’t have to worry about keeping them out of reach of your children. However, in a smart home, shades can also provide additional safety benefits. Lutron’s shades will connect to Nest’s Protect Smoke Alarm to automatically open them when a fire is detected inside, allowing emergency responders to see into the home.
By remotely controlling or setting a schedule that makes it look as if someone’s home, smart shades can help fool would-be burglars into thinking a home is occupied. Similarly, when connected to a smart home system, the blinds can shut when the occupants leave and open when they return, courtesy of geo-fencing and a smartphone.
Compared to many retrofit or new-build energy-saving solutions, installing motorized shades is a relatively inexpensive way to control solar gain and heat loss in a home. This makes them something any green builder or would-be green homeowner should seriously consider. Additionally, the integration of smart technology increases the ability of motorized shades to reduce energy use and is an excellent example of how the smart home can be put to good use helping protect our planet.