With rising prices of gas and oil, the cost of powering a home is increasing at an uncomfortable rate. However, with developing technologies, homeowners are turning towards “smart-homes,” technologically integrated, energy (and money) saving houses. Switches to lights, the garage door, heating and cooling systems, sprinklers, and other appliances around the house can be integrated to one system and allows for the homeowner to control exactly how much time an appliance is turned on, thereby allowing the monitoring of how much energy and resources are being consumed.
With the integration of the technology into the home, owners are able to see the amount of energy being used and curb any unnecessary electric consumption from “vampire” appliances, which use up large amounts of energy while plugged in but not in use. The next step of the smart home should be to reduce the usage of power even more by allowing for the home to produce its own electricity. A home in Utah is doing just that, to an extreme. With solar panels installed and covering the roof, the “Zero Home” not only produces its own electricity, it actually creates more than is actually being used. It goes so far as to have even “achieved a negative one rating on the House Energy Rating System (HERS), which is the Department of Energy’s scoring system for measuring residential energy performance. Standard houses typically have a HERS rating of 100.”2
With the renewable and unlimited source of energy hanging right about us, why not take advantage of it to reduce the amount of pollutants we release into our environment each day from just powering our homes? The price of solar panels has dropped significantly over the past few years, with costs being “60% lower in the second quarter (Q2) of 2013 than they were in early 2011. Overall solar PV system prices, on average, were 40% lower, and they were 50% lower than average solar PV system prices in early 2010.”3 The cost of buying and installing solar panels will continue to drop with new technological developments in the solar industry, thereby making smart homes across the nation in the near future a reality.