City homes are the building blocks of a smart city. And like charity begins at home, the smartness quotient for cities should also begin at home. With the advent of smart city technology, these smart solutions for homes turned out to be rather expensive. Hence their usage was restricted and/or available only to the rich. But home automation has become cheaper now with some firms offering smart solutions customised to individual needs and more importantly, within economical budgets. Sandeep Singh, VP, LifeSpace BU at Schneider Electric India, says planning for automation for a new house should start when the electrical layout is prepared. This would enable a well-designed solution meeting the home owner's expectations. While it is possible to automate an old house, the cost of retrofitting will be much higher.
The many options for smart homes include:
- Automated lighting: From integrated entertainment hubs to sensorbased LEDs that switch off automatically, the options are many. Brightness sensors that control lighting according to the ambient light are also available.
- Security: A complete CCTV surveillance system will cover a wide area and record in low light. Then there is a video door phone which can be linked to remote door mechanisms. Burglar alarm systems are not new, but today they come highly co-ordinated to central control and rapid action force.
- Climate control: there are devices that sense human presence in room and activate/de-activate accordingly. They also maintain a certain set ambient temperature in room irrespective of outside weather conditions. Moreover, these air conditioning systems can be remotely accessed and controlled from a mobile device. Other electronics and gadgets, car controls for parking, health and medical controls in sync with home, have all become a norm in today’s tech-savvy lifestyle.
But there is more to the smart quotient. All these devices previously consumed power and energy at an astounding resource. But today, not only are manufacturers more conscious of the energy saving aspects of these smart devices, but so are buyers.
The concept of automated homes has evolved from pressing buttons to open doors to securing your house and being able to remotely observe and control this space. As an add-on, automated homes tend to be more energy efficient than conventional homes. There has been a large contribution from the real estate sector as well, who provide for energy saving means and measures pre-installed into a new home. Certain developers like TATA and Godrej have gone a step ahead to make their homes energy efficient and self-sufficient in more ways than one. Clearly ‘energy-saved is energy-made’ seems to be the mantra of the smart citizen. Many citizens today co-ordinate to initiate measures that, when collectively applied, work towards a larger goal. More awareness about energy saving methods on an individual level will go a long way and play an instrumental role in bringing about about mass change, beneficial to the city as a whole. Considering the large potential available for generating solar power using unutilised space on rooftops in buildings, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) under chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the scaling up of budget from INR. 600 crore to INR. 5,000 crore for the implementation of Grid Connected Rooftops systems over a period of five years under the National Solar Mission (NSM).This will support the installation of 4200 megawatts (MW) solar rooftop systems in the country in the next five years. Solar power generated by each individual household, industrial, institutional, commercial or any other type of buildings can be used to partly fulfil the requirement of the building occupants and surplus, if any, can be fed into the grid.
City homes today are the building blocks for smart city to function efficiently. There needs to be a synchronization between the city and its home, such that they are symbiotic. State sanctioned initiatives further encourage an impetus for energy saving measures.