Most high-tech houses are cool when the electronics systems turn on, but the coolest part of this home is when the electronics turn off.
That’s because when many of the electronic devices in this house are turned off, they’re completely off—and don’t draw the “phantom” or “vampire” loads of electricity that most home electronics systems use whenever they are plugged in. In this house alone, the phantom electricity load has been cut by a third, thanks to the use of energy-efficient electronics and automating them to power down completely.
For example, the audio and video components for the two media rooms and a whole-house audio system shut off completely when a Crestron home control system sends signals to Panamax power conditioners, which cut power to the components plugged into them. In addition, a primary Crestron touchpanel in the kitchen can put secondary Crestron touchpanels throughout the house in sleep mode, thereby saving more power. And when no one’s in the house, power is cut to all the electronics.
“We simplified turning off the lighting controls and audio/video systems, and we sought out vampire loads and automated the elimination of those loads,” says Gene Quisisem, systems designer for electronics installer SoundVision of Novato, CA.
Homeowner Frank Levinson can monitor the home’s electricity use, as well as his family’s water use, via an Agilewaves energy-monitoring system. He simply logs onto a secure web page, and his energy use is charted by hour, day, month or year. He can also see how much electricity is produced by the 12-kilowatt solar panel array on the home’s roof, as well as how much hot water is made available by a solar thermal system.
“Frank is up at night watching the energy consumption of the house when people go to sleep, looking at the data, and seeing what he can do save more energy,” says Quisisem.
Levinson had personal and professional reasons for going green in this 4,200-square-foot house overlooking the Golden Gate near San Francisco. It’s clear when talking with him that he believes in saving energy resources, and his venture capital business, Small World Group, invests in green technology companies. “I have a bunch of friends who put in solar systems and pat themselves on the back for it, but we wanted to do more than that,” he says.
Follow Electronic House
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates