Earth Day 2017 is a little over a month away! To get in the spirit, we're discussing smart energy systems with Gerard Lynch, president of System 7 and The Boston Shade Company. In January, Wolfers Lighting announced its merger with both companies.
What are smart energy systems?
GERARD LYNCH: Think of all the energy "systems" in your home—lighting, climate, pool controllers, irrigation systems, and so forth. All of these systems use energy (some use water) and they all cost money to operate.
Smart energy systems involve automation. An automated system gives the end user a simple app approach for a graphical user interface (or in the case of Alexa, a voice-user interface). These apps provide a simple and streamlined way to interact with the different technologies in your home, and in doing so, you can save energy and money. To create a fully integrated home, we often add other systems to these energy systems, such as security, video cameras, access control, and more.
For example, instead of returning home at night to discover you left your thermostat up all day (and, thus, wasting energy and dollars), you can quickly log in from work, see what's going on, set things on a schedule, measure historical behaviors, etcetera.
I like to call it home energy management. We provide the systems that help you manage your energy systems in the home.
That makes sense. So let's talk about retrofitting an existing home with smarter energy systems. What systems should I focus on first? Should I do an audit of my home, or should I immediately reach out to a firm like yours and start working through the process?
GERARD LYNCH: Either approach is fine. Keep in mind that when you're in a retrofit environment, you don't want to pull new wires, so you're going to rely on wireless technologies. There are many good options out there. Whether it's a wireless thermostat, wireless lighting control switch, there are great options available for retrofit.
As to your first question, the two biggest areas where people can save energy and money in their home is through lighting control and climate control. So starting with those two systems makes a lot of sense.
And what about for new construction?
GERARD LYNCH: Today, energy usage is an important element of new home design. Many projects pursue LEED certification. System 7 has several LEED certified professionals on staff who can help you leverage technology to achieve maximum systems performance.
For example, we can automate climate systems for simplified control and we can make lighting systems respond to occupancy sensors as part of the ideal energy efficient home. We even have solutions that will allow you to monitor real time electricity usage on a circuit-by-circuit basis.
We can help you be in control of your energy consumption and provide you the peace of mind that comes with the ability to monitor energy usage other than once a month when the bills arrive.
How does pricing work?
GERARD LYNCH: It all starts with the number of devices you're going to be putting on an app. How many thermostats do you have? How many light switches do you have? And so forth.
There's an average cost per item. Smaller homes will obviously end up costing less than larger homes, but at the end of the day, it's a very transparent approach where the number of devices correlates to the cost to build a system.
You also need a strong Wi-Fi network, so if you don't have one, you have to install one of those before you install these other products. From there, you'd add it up. For example, four cameras, three wireless thermostats, and 12 switches—there's your price. It's a straightforward approach from a budget standpoint.
GERARD LYNCH: Thanks for having me.