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How to automate your home to save energy

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, space heating, water heating and lighting are the biggest sources of energy use in most homes. Much of this electricity is used during times when the house is unoccupied or its residents are asleep.

Unfortunately, it can be a challenge to remember energy saving habits such as turning off the lights before leaving. Additionally, allowing lamps or heating/cooling systems to run throughout the day can make a home more secure and more comfortable when you return. With home automation, you can still come home to a house that is brightly lit and heated or cooled to your liking while saving energy. Here's how this works:

Lighting controls

The Energy Department noted "ditching the switch" and controlling your lighting through occupancy sensors cuts your lighting energy use by 30 percent. Motion sensors will automatically turn your lights on or off when you enter or leave a room, and can be especially helpful for outdoor areas if you are coming home at night.

Many homeowners like to leave lights on while away to make the house appear occupied. While this can be a helpful deterrent to theft or vandalism, a similar effect can be achieved by using timers. These devices can turn indoor and outdoor lights on and off at specific times, including when you normally come home from work or school.

Timers can turn your lights on while you're away so your home looks occupied. Timers can turn your lights on while you're away so your home looks occupied.

Water heating

Water heating accounts for as much as 18 percent of the average home's energy use. While the Energy Department noted that upgrading to an energy-efficient water heater can save energy, this may not be a practical solution if your current heater still has several years left in its warranty.

Installing a timer on your water heater can accomplish energy savings in two ways. For one, the heating element on your heater is often warming your water continuously. This means the water gets hot faster when you need it to, but it's also a waste of energy. A programmable timer will keep the heating element from coming on while you're at work or away on vacation. Secondly, timers can be used to set limits on how long the heater runs, which can help you to take shorter showers.

Space heating

Heating and cooling is the biggest energy user in the average home, accounting for more than half of total electricity use. While the Energy Department estimates you can save energy by 1 percent for every degree you set back your thermostat, this can mean sacrificing comfort.

Instead, try limiting your heating and cooling while the residence is unoccupied or while you are asleep. Turning the thermostat back 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours a day can reduce your annual energy use by 10 percent. With digital timers, you can create a schedule so that your thermostat is adjusted automatically at the times your normally leave the house or go to bed. The timer will then return the home to your desired temperature at the hour you typically return or wake up.

Visit Gexa Energy's website, for more energy-saving tips.