Exciting technologies are being developed that will make our homes – and our cars – smarter, greener, more comfortable, and cheaper to run. Almost without exception, these new technologies are based on the concept of the all-electric home.
This blog looks at:
- What’s driving the change to the all-electric home?
- What are the biggest energy guzzlers in the typical Aussie home?
- What new technologies are coming on-stream that will change our homes?
What’s driving the change to the all-electric home?
A powerful combination of converging trends is making the shift to full electrification of our homes and transport virtually inevitable.
These trends include:
- The imperative to act on climate change
- Technological developments including:
- Internet of Things
- Internet of Energy
- Artificial Intelligence
- Battery storage
- Rising costs of fossil fuels
- Falling costs of renewable energy
- Increasingly time-poor society
When taken separately, each of these trends has the potential to transform the way we live, the homes we live in, and how we get around. But when combined, these trends take on a new force which will have a profound impact on our homes of the future.
We’ll look at three of these mega trends in more detail: climate change, the Internet of Things and energy costs.
Here in Australia, we love big homes. We also love big cars, utes, pick-ups – you name it. Because of our history as a resource-rich country, much of the infrastructure to support our way of life is based on fossil fuels. As a result, we’ve become the world’s worse CO2 emitter on a per capita basis, at 5.34 tonnes every year. That’s more CO2 emissions than the USA which comes in at 3.08 tonnes and China with 2.71 tonnes. And taken on a household basis, the average Aussie home produces a massive 18 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
But now, the imperative to act on climate change is coming home to roost due to international pressure as well as climate emergency events like the flooding in northern NSW and Queensland. The Morrison Government has set a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and state governments are setting ambitious net zero targets of their own.
This is a good start, but still not enough. Fortunately, there are other unstoppable trends will help speed up the rate of change and use of electricity of our homes.
Internet of Things
One of the biggest of these trends is the Internet of Things and Internet of Energy (which is a subset of the Internet of Things). The Internet of Things is based on the idea of connecting devices to the internet. This could be anything from a smart phone and a fridge to TVs, electric cars, batteries, and solar panel systems. Connecting these objects using sensors and smart software adds a level of digital intelligence to these devices, enabling them to communicate real-time data without human intervention. The idea is to reduce waste in the system through digital automation.
The Internet of Energy refers to making electricity grids smarter at managing supply and demand by using cloud-based software to connect millions of residential and business solar rooftop systems using the main electricity grid as an ‘electricity super-highway’. The Internet of Energy also works at household level using smart meters and smart appliances to optimise the use of electricity in the home and eliminate waste.
Solar is now the cheapest source of electricity, and cheaper than coal and gas according to the International Energy Agency. The performance of the best solar power plants in the world shows the cost of electricity from these plants is lower than from any other power source including fossil fuels.
The IEA says: “For projects with low-cost financing that tap high-quality resources, solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.”
For Australia, with our abundant sunshine and lots of space, this presents an incredible opportunity to become a world leader in renewable energy production, not just for the domestic market but also as an exportable resource to neighbouring countries.
This is already happening:
- Large-scale: SunCable’s venture in the Northern Territory to build a massive intercontinental power grid connecting Australia to Singapore to supply 24/7 renewable power.
- Domestic-scale: over 3 million Australian households now with rooftop solar
What are the biggest energy guzzlers in the typical Australia home?
A massive 79 per cent of household CO2 emissions are from energy; this includes the energy we used in our homes as well as fuel to run our cars. Surprising, our emissions from agriculture (the food we eat) is just 17 per cent and waste is even less.
So, from an environmental perspective, it’s clear that the major thing we need to focus on is the decarbonisation of our electricity generation (phasing out coal-fired power stations), our cars (switching to electric), and our gas appliances.
Breaking down the total energy use in the home, fuelling our cars is the biggest energy guzzler at about 69 per cent of the energy in the average home. Space heating is the second largest user of energy with 11 per cent of total energy use. Water heating comes in next at 8 per cent and cooking at 2 per cent.
When presented with these statistics, it becomes blindingly obvious which parts of our home we need to decarbonise. And the good news is that doing this won’t mean you’ll be less comfortable or spending more money in the longer term. Quite the opposite in fact: decarbonising your home and your car should result in a more comfortable lifestyle that costs you less!
What new technologies are coming on-stream that will change our homes?
Here’s a list of some of the new technologies that will electrify your home, making it smarter, more comfortable, cheaper to run and carbon neutral.
The best thing about all these technologies is that they will run off free electricity from your solar power system – and many of them are already available today!
- One big operating system – to run your entire home
- One app – to control everything electric in your home
- House-wide sensors – totally automate your home
- Electric vehicles – charged for free using your own solar power
- Smart, future-proof solar panel systems [link to SolarEdge post]
- Battery storage – free solar electricity when the sun isn’t shining; backup power
- Electricity trading [link to post on energy trading] with your neighbours – based on Internet of Energy
Space heating and cooling
- Reverse-cycle air conditioning [link to post about Haier] – running on your free solar; controllable from anywhere
- Smart thermostat – WiFi enabled; integrates with Google Home, Amazon Alexa etc so you can control your home’s temperature even when you’re not there; learns your schedule to program itself to save energy
- Electric heat pump hot water system[link to pop about hot water systems] – powered by your solar system
- Electric hot water pool pump [link to pool pump post] – powered for free by solar
- WiFi light bulbs – control your home lighting using a smart phone
- Smart fridges – tells you when food items are running out; re-orders for you
- Robot vacuum cleaner – switch between mop and vacuum mode when reaching different floor surfaces; links to your smart device via an app to tell it which rooms to clean
- Turn your wall into a mega TV – project photos, videos, office documents, stream movies
- Smart mini projector in your pocket – great for looking at anything digital on a larger display
- Robot chef – have your own professional chef in a robot form ready to cook whatever you want
- Wireless charging built into your furniture – no more lost or trailing cables
- Smart oven – let you preheat your oven from anywhere
- Smart security cameras – anticipate if someone is about to break into your house, sends them a verbal warning before triggering an alarm
Looking at the above list, it’s clear that the future is already here – at least with some of the items.
What’s also clear is that a solar panel + battery system is the fundamental building block for the all-electric home of the future.
Solar provides the power infrastructure you need if you are to capitalise on new technologies as they become available.
The good news is that there are new solar panel and battery storage systems [link to SolarEdge post] that are getting smarter with built-in future proofing with the all-electric home in mind.
What’s even better is that the cost of these future-proof solar power systems is less than you might think.
Get in touch
If you’d like to find out how SolarRun can design a future-proof solar energy system for your home, get in touch. We are experts in solar panel technology, battery storage, electric hot water systems, electric space heating and cooling and more besides. [put in all the links for each product type]
If you’re looking for the right advice to help transform energy use in your home to all-electric, we’re the people to talk to!