You install energy saving lightbulbs, but you then go out to work in the morning and leave them on all day. You leave your TV on standby, leave your outside lights on all night in case someone calls round, the heating on when you are out and so on… its easy to waste energy. Add teenagers into your household and the wastage will multiply many times over.
Imagine a house that senses that you have arrived home from work, switches on the outside lights to guide you from your car, switches on the coffee machine, sets the light level in the lounge to a gentle glow and puts soothing music on the stereo. After you have gone to bed, your house will switch off any lights you may have left on, switches the coffee machine off and the dishwasher on. Sounds like Star Trek, but this is possible, easy, even cheap with home automation, and the energy savings can be considerable.
At the most basic you can plug your home cinema system into a remote controlled socket and one press on the remote will switch it all off, completely, not just into standby. Automatic PIR lights are familiar, but you can extend their reach to other devices and use them inside the house too, for landings and hallways so you don’t have to reach for the switch as you struggle in with your shopping, and more importantly, they go off after a few minutes.
At the more extreme end you can use a home computer to control switches and sockets, turning things off and on depending on time, weather, or whim, even from work or your holiday hotel, via the internet or your smart phone.
The X10 system has been around for many years, and uses the mains wiring to communicate. Good for lighting as it allows remote dimming. The Bye Bye Standby radio communication system can offer more reliable switching in some circumstances