Watching the Jetsons as a kid, I envisioned myself in a futuristic home. I am vacuum-tube transported through my front door when a robot flies over grabbing my jacket and briefcase putting them away. Without missing a beat my reclining chair flies over and scoops me up so I can sit and watch my favorite shows, while drones deliver my dinner and cold root beers. Fifty years later, these ideas still sound solid!
Well let’s face it, I don’t live in a Jetson home today. Hanna Barbera’s vision hasn’t entirely unfolded, but many of their futuristic ideas are coming to fruition. At present, when I open my front door a sensor alerts the lights to automatically come on in my hallway so I don’t have to enter a dark house. I also get a notification on my phone anytime my front door opens. Many of my house lights are automated with a connection to Alexa, using a voice command for operation. Saying, “Alexa, turn off Lullaby,” (the nickname I gave to one of my lamps) will turn off our bedroom light without having to get out of bed.
Now, our vision of living a Jetson’s lifestyle is closer than ever thanks to AEP Ohio getting us involved in IT’S YOUR POWER. With IT’S YOUR POWER, we have jumped the big divide into entry-level home automation. And I’m wondering, “why didn’t we do it sooner?”
So, what did we do to be more like the futuristic family? We started by installing AEP Ohio’s IT’S YOUR POWER app onto our mobile devices. This energy-saving smart home platform is different than anything else on the market today. It pairs with a device called an Energy Bridge that runs off our Wi-Fi and connects to our smart meter to visualize our live energy use. Now we have the ability to monitor our energy usage in real-time anywhere, any time. It empowers us to see where we can make significant changes to our habits and consumption while also becoming more educated in the process. Next, we added smart bulbs, smart plugs, door sensors and other devices throughout our home. With these devices, we can now use the app to see if a light or device was left on and turn it on or off while away. We can even make rules about when things turn on and off when we travel or just to fit our daily routine. The app and Energy Bridge have so many great features, but the best feature is that they are available for free to every AEP Ohio customer.
Having an automated house is definitely the biggest reason we wanted to do this, but in the process, we discovered new ways to save money and how easy it is to do our part in energy conservation. The app does all sorts of things to improve better usage decisions with electrical devices. So for instance, we don’t run the dishwasher and do laundry the same day unless necessary. We now unplug items that are ghosting electricity like the toaster convection oven, the can opener, lighted makeup mirrors, etc. It’s super easy to plug them in when we need them and just unplug them when we are done. The app even alerts us anytime we leave something plugged in that’s a big electricity hog by telling us how much it costs to leave it connected for the year.
(Screen Shots from the IT’S YOUR POWER app)
Another great feature of the app is the energy tips. As you implement these energy management tips, you can see your energy management score improve. It’s pretty cool to see your house contributing in a positive way to the good of the environment and future generations.
(Energy Bridge, Smart switch, smart bulb)
The only disappointment so far has been with our furnace and humidistat combination. This combination doesn’t work with the AEP Ohio’s free “connected thermostat,” thus, we can’t yet control our furnace remotely. I believe that the majority of people in the Columbus area would be able to use the free AEP Ohio connected thermostat to set up automation schedules and control their thermostats from anywhere. Likely most don’t have a humidistat integrated into their thermostat, and just have a humidifier on their furnace. Obtaining the free thermostat would be an incredibly nice benefit given the high costs of purchasing a connected thermostat outright and also given the ability to lower your electric bill even more. I would love to have tried that feature of the program.
So, what has changed for us?
- We now use Alexa to turn on lights when we enter or leave a room. Most rooms have a smart bulb or smart plug. It’s a great convenience, especially when our hands are full.
- When the front door opens we get alerted on our phones and the entry hallway light turns on automatically. It also turns off in five minutes. We easily programmed this feature.
- We can turn our lights on and off remotely when we’re traveling to simulate someone being home. We also made a travel schedule that runs all the lights with the click of one button on the app.
- We have an app on our phone that shows us our energy usage and provides us hints on how to reduce energy usage. We’ve been able to reduce our energy bill with this increased visibility.
- We have increased our knowledge and awareness around other ways we can improve the energy efficiency of our home.
- We are assisting in community energy conservation.
50 years ago, Hanna Barbera envisioned a future where our homes would be totally automated. Companies like AEP Ohio are taking big steps to help people like us in and around Columbus move towards that vision. If you aren’t implementing automation in your home today, maybe it’s time to cross the divide. Why not consider using AEP Ohio’s IT’S YOUR POWER platform in your home?
Footnote – Download the app from Google Play or the App Store. Request a free Energy Bridge in the app and connected thermostat. And when you are looking to expand on this awesome experience, go to the AEP Ohio IT’S YOUR POWER Smart Home Marketplace to easily customize your smart home.