By Mark Keogh, VP of Buildings and Industry Business for Ireland.
As individuals, we all have a role in limiting our impact on the environment, but we can’t do it alone. If we’re to achieve ambitious net zero carbon targets, smart data-driven technology will be essential, and digital retrofits of homes need to become the norm.
Professional electricians have an essential role to play to help homeowners take this leap forward. Recent research undertaken in Ireland by market research company B&A pointed towards a post-pandemic window of opportunity to help consumers commit to putting sustainability at the heart of their lives. However, only 57% of consumers express concern about environmental issues and even fewer (37%) feel environmental issues have an influence on their lives, so some may be underestimating the challenge.
Despite best efforts so far, household and consumer activity haven’t always been given top priority in tackling climate change. Still, in recent years the influx of office workers into cities like Dublin has made the need to focus on decarbonising buildings and heating systems even more important.
Introducing a Fitbit for the home
To achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, our homes must become net zero. Alongside ‘sustainability’ and ‘climate change’, net zero may not be as familiar a term to consumers as ‘energy efficiency’. It is perhaps harder to relate to having an impact on climate change by taking action to reduce carbon footprints, than to the motivation of lower energy bills. But many owners don’t know where to start or are reluctant to make perceived sacrifices to their lifestyles.
The first step towards managing something is to measure it, so the best way to be more energy efficient is initially to understand how much energy we’re using and if there’s a better way of making a long-lasting change without relapsing into bad habits. Technology can play an essential role in this by contextualising and analysing our energy efficiency efforts to develop a target goal that is achievable and healthy for us. Essentially, this is the equivalent of a Fitbit for our homes to keep us on track.
Monitoring energy habits at home
Smart home technology is already popular. According to the Consumer Technology Association, the majority (69%) of US households now own at least one smart home device. Household penetration in Ireland is expected to be 23% by 2025 and could be accelerated even further by the roll-out of 5G.
In general, consumers choose smart home devices that are easy to use and install and provide cost and energy savings. Yet what we’re seeing is that despite many consumers owning a piece of smart technology, it isn’t revolutionising the way we live and how we save energy. It may potentially even be adding to our environmental footprint.
Consumers need easy-to-understand insights that guide them towards making better decisions and embedding better energy habits. The importance of integrated solutions, which connect and analyse data from various smart products in the home, can’t be overstated. Once our homes have become truly intelligent, a realistic path to net zero will be revealed.