Whole Life Cost….?

Planning Thoughts For Home Automation

When tackling building projects, much Energyof the budget focus is on the actual build and not the on going utility costs with the building. Taking a Whole Life Cost view of your project and dramatically change your thinking on where to spend your tight budget. Even building infrastructure is designed around current need, with little or no thought given to the future….

By adopting a holistic view to a build or renovation project, you can plan for the future and implement a building control solution that can manage the more mundane aspects of a property e.g. security, heating & lighting. With the roll out of (not so smart) Smart Meters, consumers will be more aware of their daily spend, but will have little knowledge of where its being used or wasted.

plansBuilding Standards have come along way in the past decade, and mandate many aspects of the building criteria from ventilation to thermal efficiency. However the one area that is not tackled is they way in which the building is used.  People are inefficient with heating and lighting systems, once installed they are rarely touched. Many new builds still only utilise a single central thermostat to heat the entire property, leaving rooms over or under heated. Individual room control can greatly reduce heating costs and vastly improve control. With advances in technology, room stats have become embedded, hidden chip sensors/probes.

Breakdown and statistics – Your car can tell you exactly how efficient it is at any given time, how far your tank of fuel will take you and has many automated features. Many homes still rely on manual switching or user intervention to adjust, for example, the heating. By taking a Whole Life Approach to your planned project these controls can be factored in and a calculated payback cost evaluated.

Looking for where the electricity bill went, smartmetersub-metering helps by splitting up your consumption. Caravan parks/marinas have been using miniature meters on hookups for a few years, and these same style devices can be used in the home too. With the convenience of an app to show you which area/appliance used what, and will allow you to make informed decisions based on actual consumption.

LED Feature LightingSo, how is a Smart Home it achieved using a Whole Life Cost approach. Instead of the more traditional way of engaging with an architect first, then presenting the plans to your builder and then sorting out the necessary trades, having all the major parties involved at the outset can vastly alter what you get. Plant & Utility rooms feature more in Smart homes, as this is where not only the heating is housed, but also the networking hub, media servers & distribution and all of those ugly Set Top Boxes. Not only is this convenient, but can lock away valuable electronics from prying eyes. This is also the focus of all incoming services, Phone, water, gas, Sat feeds etc. allowing for a central managed area. Heating, cooling and shading can be easily designed in, along with a lighting, network/WiFi and multi-media plan. Granted not all of this is needed, but may be required in the future. Remember, the most expensive cable is the one that was not installed….

In the short term, collaborative working is necessary to achieve the property owners desires. As I see too often, trades that are too focused on their own area of expertise without much thought to the finished property…

  • Plumbers installing heating systems without much thought to aesthetics
  • Electricians running cabling down the side of doors/windows making curtains difficult to mount
  • Little thought to Sat dish placement and the subsequent cabling
  • No data connections at TV points
  • Architects/Builders planning utility service entry points with little thought to plumbers, electricians and multi media installers.

There is a guide book out by CEDIA that covers many of the areas that require some forethought. Even if not installed, it provides a “what if” question that my result in a “fitted for” installation. We have a hard copy that we can provide for reference. In addition as trained Outreach instructors, we can provide accredited training to Architects, Builders and Interior Designers.

In short, if you want a Smart Home, you need to think Smart and employ the services of Smart Professionals. Just look for…..

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