Twelve eco-friendly ideas for the sustainable smart home

Can you go full tech and stay eco-friendly?

Twelve sustainable smart home ideas

Can you be a smart home nerd and still care about the planet? It's probably too soon to tell, really – we still don't know exactly how the smart home is going to shake out. There's no denying, though, that adding more tech to your home could leave you using more energy on a regular basis – in fact, we calculated exactly how much power typical smart home tech devices use per month.

And when it comes to planning an eco-friendly and sustainable home, it seems there are two stark choices – very, very low tech or very, very high tech. Then again most people's lives don't allow for either of these two scenarios in practice, whether that be for family, work or budget reasons.

Read this: The best connected garden kit

So here's some techy sustainable smart home ideas, from bargains to big installations, from stuff you can buy now to crowdfunds and prototypes that are coming soon. If you've tried to figure out this particular conundrum, let us know in the comments below what works for you.

Energy

Your first stop on the way to building a sustainable smart home – the energy you use, how to minimise it and where it comes from. You might already have a renewable energy provider in place, if you live in an apartment, or if you're living in a larger house you might be thinking about supplying your own energy.

Twelve eco-friendly ideas for sustainable smart homes

Nest Thermostat

Smart thermostats can reduce wasted energy – and money on those big heating bills. They're super popular and a great way to jump into making your home more energy efficient. Nest's series of smart thermostats is very beginner friendly – they learn your habits, producing a heating schedule based on when you're in and out of the house so you don't need to mess about with them manually too much. Plus there's hot water and cooling options, and a nice ecosystem of Nest products to build out your smart home.

Nest isn't the be all and end all of the category though so we suggest you have a read of our best smart thermostats group test to find out about rivals' features, including geo-fencing and multi-zonal support outside the US.

$249, nest.com

Ten eco-friendly ideas for the sustainable smart home

Conico Smart Power Strip

They might not be sexy but smart power strips, like this bargain one from Conico, can save a lot of energy. They're especially useful for home tech that sucks energy on standby like TVs, consoles etc.

This Wi-Fi connected smart power strip gets you four Alexa/ Google Assistant controlled smart plugs (which can be powered on/off as a group or named individually) and four USB ports which are grouped together for voice controls. You can also control everything via the iOS/Android Jinvoo companion app.

$30.99 | Amazon

Twelve eco-friendly ideas for the sustainable smart home

Tesla Powerwall 2 + Solar Roof

Tesla's smart lithium-ion battery and Solar Roof panel setup can give you a self-powered home – at a price. Depending on the size of your house and your typical energy usage, Tesla can recommend how many Powerwalls you need to get 100% of your energy from solar/battery and also how many you need to give you power for 24 hours should there be a grid outage. If you have intensive kit such as air conditioners, pool pumps or electric vehicle chargers – shout out Tesla crossover – you'll need more battery storage.

As for the solar panels, you can choose from a range of textured, smooth, Tuscan and slate finishes for the tempered glass tiles, which are designed to look invisible from street level and are three times stronger than your average roof tiles.

From $5,900 (Powerwall 2), $21.85 per sq ft (Solar Roof) tesla.com

Ten eco-friendly ideas for the sustainable smart home

Moixa

If you want to go the whole hog with sustainable energy and storage, another option is Moixa. If you live in the UK, you can install a smart battery – 2kWh for a two bed home, 3kWh for a three bed – that collects electricity either from solar panels on your property or when it's off peak and cheap from the grid.

If you go the solar route, you can store daytime energy for nighttime use and even sell excess energy back to the grid via the GridShare scheme. Moixa says its solar bundle could cut electricity bills by 60% – that's about £350 a year's worth based on current energy prices.

From £2,950 (smart battery), from £4,995 (solar bundle), moixa.com


Water

The smart home headlines are all about saving energy and money, but once you've got your smart thermostat game sorted, it's time to turn to water consumption inside and outside the house.

Twelve ideas for sustainable smart home tech

Hydrao Shower Aloe

The latest Hydrao smart showerhead is designed to help you use less water. It lets you know the volume of the shower water you've used via LED lights that turn the water spray blue, green, purple and red.

You can set the thresholds yourself – e.g. 10/20/30/40 litres – and view the water and heating savings in the companion iOS/Android app with a history of the last 1,000 showers. It doesn't need a power supply as it uses the water flow to generate power via a mini turbine – clever. Pre-order the Aloe now for shipping in June 2018.

$81, hydrao.com

Twelve ideas for sustainable smart home tech

rOcean One

This "personalised water ecosystem" for the home isn't actually about using less water, but using fewer plastic bottles (thereby protecting the water in the oceans into which 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped every year). You hook the rOcean One up to your tap and then choose via the touchscreen or companion app what kind of filtered water you want to put in the refill bottle: how fizzy, what flavours, what vitamins or electrolytes you need etc. The pods themselves are reusable, dishwasher proof and good for 60 litres of water. Oh and there's Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility too.

The first batch of the rOcean One is actually sold out, but the New York based startup behind it wants people to sign up to a wait list for news on when it's next available. Original Indiegogo backers can expect units in December 2018.

From $179, rocean.com

Twelve ideas for sustainable smart home tech

Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller

Rachio reckons its connected tech could cut your garden water bill by up to 50%, and its new Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller works with a zonal irrigation system, automatically adjusting sprinklers according to soil type, exposure to the sun, weather patterns and humidity. When it's raining, they stay switched off.

You can also control everything through the app and if you go for the third gen model, you'll get access to more precise, hyperlocal weather information from satellites and national personal weather stations. There's dual-band Wi-Fi on board and it works with all the main smart home ecosystems, bar Apple HomeKit.

From $199.99 for eight-zone system, rachio.com


Wood

Getting into smart home tech can mean bringing a lot of black plastic beasts and other problem materials into your living space. One nice trend we're starting to see is the use of wood – from air quality monitors to retro smart speakers. As well as being a sustainable option, you might also prefer the aesthetic, which you can enjoy without compromising on the connected tech.

Ideas for a smart sustainable home

Awair

This stylish smart air quality monitor tracks VOC chemicals, dust, CO2, temperature and humidity levels in your home environment, then gives you an air quality score out of 100 on its LED matrix display.

You get personalised tips for how to improve the air quality in your home via the companion app and it connects to Alexa for voice controls, Nest and IFTTT. It's made from hand-crafted North American walnut timber and Awair says each device is made from "100% non-toxic natural materials".

$179, getawair.com | Amazon

Ideas for a smart sustainable home

Turn Touch

This lush smart remote/smart button is carved from solid mahogany with white maple buttons and a mother of pearl inlay. It connects to iOS and macOS and its four buttons can be programmed to control a bunch of smart home tech – smart speakers, smart lights… Just hold down on one button to switch to between 'button apps', effectively giving you 16 functions.

After a (modest) successful Kickstarter campaign, which shipped to backers, it's now on sale and you can choose to pay $40 extra for a rosewood version – the crowdfund also featured a crimson African padauk and yellow Brazilian satinwood design.

$59, turntouch.com

Ideas for a smart sustainable home

Mui

It's just a prototype for now, but this smart wooden 'display' is being developed by Kyoto-based tech company Nissha. It has been showing off a sycamore model but is looking at marble, glass and fabric finishes too. The interactive display, powered by Japanese platform myThings, can show the time, weather, messages such as 'How can I help you?' and control Philips Hue smart lightbulbs, with more smart home functionality expected to be added.

There are CO2 and occupancy sensors with voice activation in the works too. Nissha plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in June 2018, but Mui won't come cheap with an expected price of $900+. Then again, just look at it.

TBA, mui.jp

Como Audio SpeakEasy

Ideas for a smart sustainable home

This retro-looking Google Assistant speaker comes with a cabinet made from walnut or a hickory wood veneer. The only plastic used on the front face of the Como Audio SpeakEasy is on the LED display and sensor – there are also anodised aluminium panels and twiddly knobs. It's crowdfunding on Kickstarter now, with prices starting at $199 and shipping set for November 2018.

From $199, comoaudio.com



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